What is all the BUZZ about the CUBS BULLPEN? Welcome to the second edition of “Reverse the Curse”. Just as the Cubs were in the midst of a six game sweep at Wrigley, generic we were stung by a little bit of reality.
The bright spots…the Cubs won six of their last eight games and the bullpen is beginning to evolve. With only 26 wins, patient the Cubs manage to spread their saves across four different guys. And if that isn’t enough good news, a Closer has finally emerged. The credit goes to manager Rick Renteria who put together this bunch of Cohesive Chameleons.
Let’s take a look at these relief pitchers, a mixed bag of tricks which come complete with an interesting back-story and sense of fashion…
Brian Schlitter – Do we really have to refer to this 6’5’ right-hander as “Schlit”? One of Chicago’s hometown heroes went to high school in Park Ridge at Maine South. He made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2010 for about two weeks until he was put on the disabled list and then bounced on and off waivers for the last three years until he attended Spring Training as a non-roster invitee and surprisingly made the team this April.
Carlos Villanueva – This right-handed reliever is the only veteran in the bullpen for the Cubs and spurred these guys into action with what he calls tough love. “The biggest thing is they are not afraid,” is just one excerpt from his hilarious ESPN podcast on the Cubs young bullpen. Take a listen Podcast: Carlos Villanueva on young pen
Hector Rondon: Designated Cubs Closer has been throwing well. Rondon has given up just one earned run on four hits and two walks over his last nine appearances as he settles into the Closer role for Chicago. He owns a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings.
The best of the rest of the bullpen: Pedro Strop began to make a name for himself last year and continues his pitching and fielding success this season. Neil Rameriz , who was primarily a starter in the minor leagues, shut down Brewer’s all star Ryan Braun for his first Major League strike out. Rameriz has been a good set up man for the team and even took the place as Closer when Rondon was on paternity leave last month. And finally, a quick mention of Justin Grimm who has been gaining confidence since late May when he displayed success against tough teams like the the Giants and Yankees. Keep an eye on this young Cub team, as we head to the east-coast for a 10 game Road Trip. GO CUBS!!
FLASHBACK: Cubs famous closer, Lee Smith, 1984 NLCS against the Cardinals and one of the best saves in the history of the Cubs.