I usually do not like to do this. I am not a fan of irrational hot takes before a season really gets underway. It pains me to make such a strong statement with 1.8% of the season completed but this window is closing fast. Here goes nothing…
Theo Epstein, you need to fix this bullpen right now.
The Chicago Cubs scored 28 runs in 3 games against a team that is not expected to contend at all in the Texas Rangers. They won 1 out of those 3 games. The bullpen gave up 6 runs in the final 3.1 innings Sunday afternoon. I know it is early but Joe Maddon does not have time to mess around this year. Every single game matters, every single one.
After blowing leads on Saturday and Sunday, the bullpen now boasts a spectacular 10.03 ERA after one series. Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery, Carl Edwards Jr. (of course), and Tyler Chatwood (of course) all gave up runs in Texas this weekend. Carl Edwards Jr. is extremely close to being completely canceled. I am willing to give him a little time with his new delivery. He gets until Memorial Day to figure it out. Tyler Chatwood still sucks, shocking! Brandon Morrow still is not ready and won’t be for a few more weeks. Something has got to give here.
Joe Maddon can sit there and say only Mike Montgomery pitched terribly but anyone with eyes can see there is a much larger concern at hand. This division is going to be an absolute battle this season. The Brewers and Cardinals aren’t going anywhere. The Pirates and Reds will give every team in the NL Central tough games all season.
The worst part about all of this is this could have been addressed going into the season. We all knew Brandon Morrow wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day. We knew Tyler Chatwood was about as dependable as your friend who always says they “might” show up to the pregame. Pedro Strop tweaked his hamstring during Spring Training. Carl Edwards Jr. will be a mental headcase until the day he dies. The one new bullpen addition, Brad Bach, saw his velocity dip this spring. In an offseason with minimal moves, why be cheap on a large area of concern?
Here is how you fix this Theo, go sign Craig Kimbrel. I don’t care if he costs you a draft pick. I don’t care that you may have to overpay for him. The Chicago Cubs need him. Joe Maddon needs him. We need him. You know how you preserve an aging rotation, by creating a dependable bullpen. You can add another lock down reliever to a bullpen that will for sure obtain some sort of injury throughout the 162 game season. Pedro Strop, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Morrow. That sounds like a pretty dynamic 7th, 8th, and 9th if you ask me. Most importantly, you can handcuff the Milwaukee Brewers. They just lost one of their best relievers, Corey Knebel, to Tommy John. They have been in talks with Kimbrel for a bit now but clearly can’t come to terms or he’d already be up in Thrillwaukee (I went to college there, I can call it that).
After an offseason of sitting on your hands, do the right thing Theo. You owe it to yourself to give Joe the best chance to win. A bullpen you cannot trust is a guaranteed way to lose this division. It will cost a bit, but I promise you it will be worth it. Bring Craig Kimbrell to the North Side. For our sanity, please.