Chicago Cubs finally do something about the bullpen

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 28: Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs at a press conference introducing David Ross as the new manager of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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It’s been a quiet offseason on the North Side of Chicago. The Chicago Cubs finally did something with a slew of reliever signings that are more important than you realize.

The 2019 Chicago Cubs were a colossal disappointment, missing the playoffs and watching the Cardinals and Brewers make the playoffs. There was plenty of blame to go around for the total collapse that left the Cubs seven games behind the Cardinals and five behind the Brewers. One key area of implosion that struggled throughout the entire season was the bullpen.

This past season, the Cubs ranked fifth in blown saves at 27. SPIN ZONE, blowing saves means you have a lead to give away. Actually, 4/5 of the teams that blew the most were in the playoffs, including the champion Nationals. Looking at it a different way, the Cubs were ranked in the back third of the league in Win Probability Added (WPA). Rowan Wick led the Cubs in WPA despite not getting a prevalent role in the bullpen until the end of the season.

The Cubs have also had some structural problems in their relief corps. As velocity has increased through the league, the Cubs bullpen has lagged behind. That’s backed up by the numbers because the Cubs were 26th in average reliever fastball at 93.1. Most teams have a stable pipeline of pitchers with 100 MPH fastballs, nasty breaking balls and no clue where it’s going. Outside of Dillon Maples, the Cubs haven’t had any guys like that to give an opportunity to.

The Cubs have now taken steps to address these bullpen issues, opting for the throw any reliever with a pulse at the wall and see what sticks. The Cubs acquired Travis Lakins from the Red Sox and gave minor league deals with Spring Training invites to Danny Hultzen and Rex Brothers. The Cubs also signed Dan Winkler to an MLB deal back in December and got C.D. Pelham off waivers from Texas. Many of these guys won’t stick with the team but some could.

Each of these pitchers have something unique about them that could turn them into a solid bridge to Craig Kimbrel. So without further delay, the most interesting statistics for the Chicago Cubs motley crew of relievers.