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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(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs bullpen hopefuls

RHP Travis Lakins

A year ago Lakins was ranked as the Red Sox tenth best prospect and made it to the MLB this year.  He has a deep pitch repertoire for a reliever, with a fastball, cutter, slider, and curveball.  His curve is a high spin offering and his fastball averaged 93.7 MPH, which is higher than the Chicago Cubs reliever average last year. Lakins also had a 47% ground ball rate.

RHP Dan Winkler

Winkler may only average 92 on his heater, but his fastball spin rate is top 25 in the league.  Looking at his heat map, Winkler would be better served locating his fastball higher in the zone. In 2018, he racked up 1.2 WAR and also held batters to a below average exit velocity. In 2019, Winkler had one of the lowest Contact% and Out of Zone Contact% of his career at 69% and 54%.

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LHP Danny Hultzen

Hultzen finally ascended to the majors eight years after being the number two overall pick in 2011. Hultzen averaged 93 on his fastball and struck out 28 hitters in 18 innings between AAA and the Majors. He could be a lefty out of the bullpen who could still get righties out if he can bury sliders on their back foot.

LHP Rex Brothers

New York probably not the best place for someone trying to get back to the bigs as a reliever since that was a Yankee Strength. Brothers is 32 and brings the heat having averaged 96.5 on his fastball. He’s averaged around 40 innings the past few years so the cubs are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

LHP C.D Pelham

Pelham hasn’t gotten much exposure to the MLB yet but in 2018 he averaged an explosive 96.3 MPH on his fastball which was accompanied by a slider. Both offerings are low spin that can generate a ton of ground balls. In AAA last year, he had a 48% GB rate. Pelham is only 24 so he’ll get every opportunity to figure it out and be a fixture in the Cubs bullpen moving forward.

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Some of these guys will work out, some won’t make it past Spring Training in Arizona. The Chicago Cubs have a ton of innings available. Rowan Wick proved last season what can happen when you take a flyer on guys with great stuff. If even two of these guys can provide that sort of value, the Cubs bullpen will be headed in the right direction.