A wave of helplessness overwhelmed me when Pedro Strop injured his hamstring two weeks ago. Imagining Cubs closing out games without Strop and Brandon Morrow was impossible. But Joe Maddon’s creative bullpen management has enabled the Cubs to continuously lock down close contests.
Not one pitcher in the bullpen has been the “go-to guy” since Strop was injured. Instead, Maddon’s utilized nearly half his bullpen in similar high-leverage situations. Justin Wilson, Jesse Chavez, Randy Rosario, Steve Cishek, Jorge De La Rosa, and Carl Edwards Jr. have been the guys Joe has called upon to seal games.
Most notable of Maddon’s circle of trust is Chavez, who has usually entered because he’s playing the stopper role, deservedly so. The tough righty has been nothing but nails since buttoning up a Cubs uniform, entering Thursday night with an impressive 1.29 ERA and 2.53 FIP in 35 innings. What did we do to deserve Chavez?
It’s also odd to see that Rosario has accumulated more relief appearances with a similar leverage index as Steve Cishek. Ditto for De La Rosa. Raise your hand if you ever thought either Rosario or DLR would be inside Maddon’s circle of trust in 2018. Well actually, we here at Cubs Insider sort of thought the former could end up as an important reliever.
Even though Strop’s return is still questionable, efforts from Chavez — especially Chavez — Cishek, et. al could still propel the Cubs through the playoffs.