Monday, October 16, 2017

On Duensing and the Cubs bullpen

Joe Maddon, the manager of the defending champs, is taking some criticism in the wake of Sunday's game, which was decided without the participation of Wade Davis, the Cubs' best reliever and closer (the two concepts are not identical). #OldFriend Brian Duensing opened the bottom of the ninth for the Cubbies, and John Lackey ended it with a gopher ball. Duensing took the loss.

Maddon, postgame, on Davis:

“He had limited pitches. It was one inning only, and in these circumstances you don’t get him up and then don’t get him in. So if we had caught the lead, he would have pitched. That’s it.”

I buy that. Davis threw 45 pitches in that bizarre Game 5 to beat the Nationals. He hasn't worked that deep in years, probably since the Royals gave up trying to make him a starter. I'm sure Maddon's preference was not to use him at all.

Maddon appears to be managing the Cubs as if they don't have a lockdown bullpen right now, even though a number of relievers had strong seasons.

Duensing was one of those. Not just a 2.74 ERA. but 61 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. He coughed up only one lead for the Cubs. He didn't have a big platoon split; in fact, he held righties to a lower slugging percentage. A nice season for the former Twin.

The Cubs pitching staff is based on its solid rotation (Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Kendricks, Jose Quintana). But Maddon, by choice or circumstances, is getting just five innings or so a game out of these guys. Which means the bullpen has to pick up the rest, and he rode Davis really hard against the Nationals. He went through three of his middle bullpen guys Sunday (Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop and Duensing) before turning to fifth-starter Lackey.

The decisions Maddon made in previous games led to the decsions he made Sunday. He couldn't go deep with Lester because he was on short rest after pitching 3.2 innings in relief Thursday. Davis's availability was limited. He hasn't gotten a quality start since Game Two against the Nationals, and the bullpen coughed that one away.

Maybe today's offday will straighten things out. Seven or eight innings from Tuesday's starter would help more.

No comments:

Post a Comment