After blowing two leads in Cincinnati over the weekend, the Cubs’ bullpen is finally looking vulnerable for the first time this season. Brandon Morrow and Carl Edwards Jr. are on the shelf with no set return, while Mike Montgomery will likely remain in the rotation for the remainder of the season. That’s three of the team’s five best relievers no longer available on a daily basis, and it’s killing the depth.
While Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Steve Cishek form a respectable back-end trio, none of them can afford to falter because if they do, Maddon is forced to either replace them with a AAA caliber guy or let them pitch through their struggle. If the Cubs had more arms available, Maddon wouldn’t have let Strop continue to pitch yesterday as he allowed seven out of the nine batters he faced reach, blowing a four-run lead in the process. Add on Wilson’s command issues and Cishek’s early season over usage, and it’s not hard to see yesterday’s disaster repeating itself in the short future.
Tyler Chatwood won’t help much in a reliever role. Brian Duensing has regressed significantly in 2018. Left-hander Randy Rosario has been impressive, but forcing him into a regular set-up role seems premature given that he’s thrown just 19 career innings with a 4.69 career FIP. Iowa’s closer Dillon Maples has filthy stuff, but he’s walked 24 batters in 25.1 innings, he’s not ready yet.
So if the Cubs are worried about Morrow and/or Edwards missing more time than they’re leading on, why not make a trade? They’re likely to make a trade for a reliever by the July 31st deadline anyway, as they have each of the last three seasons. Why wait a month when the bullpen desperately needs another arm right now?
We’ve already seen multiple postseason contenders trade for relievers this season, as Seattle and Washington have added Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera, respectfully.
We know the Cubs have been in talks with the Orioles for months, and while most people have been fixated over the idea of Manny Machado, it’s far more likely that the Cubs have been gauging Baltimore’s interest in trading any or all of the Brad Bach, Zach Britton, Darren O’Day trio.
Adding one of those three or someone like Jake Diekman from the Rangers would immediately bolster a bullpen that needs bolstering, so why wait?