Revenge 2018: A Cubs Season Preview, Bullpen Edition


Last year you may have caught me saying “This is the year… again.” Obviously it wasn’t the year again, but it was pretty damn close. Last year the Cubs were the first team since 2009 to win the World Series and then win their division the next year. So for all the trash they had tossed at them on Twitter, for all the dumb shit people said all 2017… three straight LCS appearances is not common. Only six other teams have done that since the postseason became three rounds in 1995. That’s impressive.

But here we are on February 27, 2018, where there are exactly 30 days till Opening Day in Miami. And now that you’ve read the first two parts of the revenge preview, here is the final part of the trilogy. I’ve covered how dirty both the Cubs’ rotation and the lineup is and will be, but this is the final piece of the puzzle, and it also happens to be my favorite – the bullpen, aka Dirty Mike and the Boys.

Before we get started, we need to get rid of the bullpen dancing thing. Yes, it was cool, but I’d prefer it stays in 2017, because we need to get 2017 out of our system. The only thing I want staying is the dugout interviews with the fake microphones from La Stella and Happ, because those were nothing short of hilarious. Javy mixing in some imaginary camera work only helped it. But here we are. It’s 2018. And the Cubs are going to have one of the best bullpen in the bigs. And this is why.

Last year the Cubs had the sixth best bullpen ERA in baseball. Does that surprise you? Even with all the stupid idiots that would blame good pitchers like Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, and Mike Montgomery for losses? These dudes are good. Let’s go through the dudes who will probably be the sitting behind the outfield walls on Opening Day.

2017 ERA next to name

Dirty Mike Montgomery – 3.38 (2.49 as reliever)

Dirty Mike could easily be the Cubs fifth starter. And we all know he wants to be. But that ship sailed when a guy named Yu Darvish told Theo bet, followed the paper trail, and pinstriped up. But that’s okay with Montgomery, aka Seth Majewski, who is one of the most reliable relievers on the team and in my eyes one of the best long relievers/swingmen in baseball. But man did he have a shitty postseason. Of all the players that were straight trash in October, Mike was the worst. In 4.1 innings against the Nationals and Dodgers combined, he gave up 8 earned runs, three bombs, four walks, 14 hits, and had an ERA of 16.62. Not even five innings. It was not Mike’s best couple of weeks, but he was seventh on the team in WAR last year and also hit a dickshot into the chophouse at whatever that new Atlanta stadium is and that was fucking awesome.

Steve “Sea Shark” Cishek – 2.01

As one of the new kids on the block, Sea Shark’s signing flew somewhat under the radar. But make no mistake – this dude is a beast. Let’s be clear, ERA for relievers is of course flawed. But I have my own scale for reliever ERA and it’s pretty simple. If you’re above 4.00, you aren’t good. If you’re between 3.50 and 4.00, you’re meh at best. If you’re between 3.00 and 3.50, you’re decent, but still could be better. If you’re between 2.50 and 3.00, you’re good, and if you’re under 2.50, you’re one of the best. And last year Steve Cishek was one of the best relievers in baseball. His 2.01 ERA was 14th best among relievers who appeared in over 40 games. He also has 121 saves in his eight-year career and if it were up to he’s the 2018 Cubs closer, but the remains to be seen. Regardless, Sea Shark is a bona fide relief pitcher and we should be excited to have him on the North Side. At least I am.

Brandon Morrow – 2.06

Right under the list that Cishek was 14th on is Brandon Morrow. As the set-up man for arguably the best closer in the game, Morrow was a monster. He allowed a grand total of zero home runs in 43.2 innings. Since becoming a reliever full time in 2016, he has an ERA of 1.96. Filth. As of right now he’s probably the closer, but that remains to be officially seen. The best part about this guy is that we stole him from the Dodgers. The worst part is that he doesn’t have a nickname. Yet.

Brian Duensing – 2.74

Since we (hopefully) have moved on from the bullpen dancing, “Dancing Duensing” is gonna need a new nickname. But independent from that, a case can be made that Duensing was the most reliable guy not named Wade Davis to trot to the mound last year. 68 relief appearances from Brian turned into a 2.74 ERA. I wasn’t expecting much from him before the season started, and he had a shitty April. But after that he was pretty nails. In 50 games from May to August, he gave up eight runs. This guy is also a stud. If you haven’t noticed, they’re all studs.

Carl “Crabman” Edwards, Jr. – 2.98

If you’ve seen My Name Is Earl, you’d understand the nickname, because the two dudes are basically twins. Oh CJ. Probably the most polarizing reliever on the team. This guy gets more hate than anyone and it’s mostly unjust. Before the all-star break last year, he had a 2.29 ERA in 38 games. He didn’t give up a run till May. He had bad June, a good July, a god awful August, which you may remember because the Nationals ran him out of Wrigley over Lolla weekend. But he settled down in September before his very interesting postseason – a Game 1 in Washington where he went 3 up 3 down, Game 2 where he gave up the game-tying blast to Bryce, Game 3 at Wrigley where he not only got the win but went three up three down in one of the most intense games I’ve ever seen, a Game 4 where he gave up two runs and recorded zero outs, and a Game 5 where honestly every pitcher on both teams sucked ass and we were lucky to have the only one that didn’t. Carl is throws straight gas, but has a control issue. Regardless, he’s an above average relief pitcher who’s only getting better.

Justin “Bag of Cheetos” Wilson – 3.41 (5.09 with Cubs)

I call Wilson a bag of Cheetos because when the Cubs traded that Jeimer Candelario package to Detroit for him and Alex Avila, a certain friend of mine said we traded a bag of chips and a cookie for Wilson and Avila. Turns out Avila was actually good, and Wilson was the real bag of chips. But man what a disaster did he turn out to be. Hopefully he’s not as bad, and it’s easy to think he won’t be after having a 2.68 ERA in Detroit last year. I don’t know how he didn’t give up a home run in a Cubs uniform last year, but in his 23 Cubs appearances, he gave up a walk or a hit in 16 of them. That’s nothing short of terrible. But optimism runs high on the North Side and we all know that. Try not to suck this year, Justin. This leaves us to the final member of the bullpen, who is probably my favorite pitcher on the team…

Pedro “Hats to the Left” Strop – 2.83

For my money, Pedro Strop is the most electric player on the Chicago Cubs. Everything from his almost unhittable slider to his fist pumps are straight voltage. And I didn’t even mention his hat. Strop is one of the longest tenured Cubs after coming to Chicago with Jake in the Baltimore trade. Since then he has a 2.72 ERA in five seasons with the team. His highest ERA of those years is 2.91. I want this man to be a Chicago Cubs until he retires. His consistency is impressive. Oh, and in 9 games against the Brewers last year, he allowed nothing. Hats to the left, forever.

As you can see this Cubs bullpen, who already had the sixth best ERA in baseball last year, is nice to say the least. Morrow and Cishek replacing Rondon and Grimm should only help things (if Grimm doesn’t make the roster, which he shouldn’t).

Look, obviously the Astros are the best team in baseball coming into 2018 just like the Cubs were going into last year. But I see no reason why are not the second best team in baseball. Our rotation is stacked, our lineup is tough, and our bullpen is lockdown.

It all begins again in Miami in 30 days. We’re gonna start 5-0. After that I have no idea. But all I see is another NL Central title and potentially another pennant. From now, to Miami, to whatever happens in October (or November), we’ll have it all covered for you here at General Admission. By Northsiders. For Northsiders.