Most Cubs fans know Chris Bosio as the guy with the white goatee who comes out of the dugout when pitchers are in trouble to make a mound visit. But he’s much more than that. Bosio was hired by Theo Epstein in 2012 to make a difference in a struggling pitching staff. He had several “projects” throughout his six year tenure as the Cubs pitching coach, and has a track record as good as they come. He helped transform Jake Arrieta from the baby faced Oriole who came over in a deal with Pedro Strop into a lumberjack Cy Young winner with two no hitters under his belt. He helped transform Kyle Hendricks from a 2011 eighth round Rangers draft pick into the 2016 MLB ERA leader, with a fastball that rarely touches 89 mph. He improved one of the worst pitching staffs into the best staff in the MLB in 2016, topping the rankings with a 3.19 ERA. So when the pitching staff regressed in 2017 to a 3.95 ERA, with the bullpen seemingly collapsing in October, with eighth innings giving Tribune writers plenty to write about, it was obvious that changes needed to be made. Part of the problem was personnel wise, there’s no debating that, but the endless walks throughout the regular season and more evidently in October weren’t a lack of talent.
So Theo told Joe after the Dodgers series that he can have any coach back that he wishes, giving him the reigns to the club. The first to go was Chris Bosio, fired Saturday, being made an example of for the lack of pitching in 2017. Probable replacementh candidates include Jim Hickey, Maddon’s pitching coach when he did his time in Tampa Bay, former Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux, and recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, a 2013 World Series Champion.
A manager-pitching coach is delicate, with crucial decisions about who should be on the mound in a tight situation causing an inevitable conflict between Maddon and Bosio. It’s clear that the Cubs are aiming to add more solidity to the bullpen this offseason, and part of that is addition by subtraction, kicking Bosio to the curb.
The pitching staff was far from a championship caliber performance this year, but does that mean Theo should get rid of one of the key faces behind the miraculous rebuild? We have a long way to go this winter, and we’ll see several friendly faces we’ve grown to know and love leave the North Side, so you better get used to it. But this blog is a recognition and a thank you to Chris Bosio for his time at Wrigley. This one’s for you.