Hendricks Betters Greinke as Cubs Beat D-Backs 4-2

Hendricks

This one had a familiar feel to it, it felt a lot like the game last night, you know, the one that ended poorly.  The result was different tonight, mainly because of the job Adam Warren, and Hector Rondon did out of the bullpen.  Kyle Hendricks was so very good tonight, and he was one out away from getting his team into the eighth inning.  The final line on Hendricks; 6.2 innings worked, giving up two runs on four hits while walking one, and striking out five,

His counterpart Zack Greinke didn’t fare so well as the Cubs jumped on him early, scoring three times in the first, and never looking back.  Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant each had an RBI in the first, a single for Rizzo and a double for Bryant.  Miguel Montero pushed the Cubs lead to three with a sacrifice fly, and Zobrist smacked an RBI double in the fourth to close out the scoring.

Great chance for the Cubs to move to 5-1 on the season, and this road trip tomorrow as Jake Arrieta gets the ball.

CHC 4-9-16 - BAT

CHC 4-9-16 - PIT

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Afternoon Delight: Dominant Bullpen on the Horizon?

Rondon

The bullpen is a tricky thing, from year to year guys come and go, and every once in a while a team boasts a dominant bullpen relatively out of nowhere.  Off-season acquisitions, and power arms marinating on the farm are usually catalysts for such success, but injuries, and unforeseen ineffectiveness can derail the pen quickly.  Given the large number of variables that go into predicting the success of a bullpen it’s usually an exercise in futility, but here goes…  The Cubs’ bullpen has a chance to be dominant (They all do!  You’re screaming), well, let’s just look at the options, shall we?

The Cubs have a solid core group of guys coming back this year, which could point to a reasonable amount of success in 2016.  I base this mostly on the fact that the Cubs had the 8th best bullpen ERA in the Majors last year, and names like Brian Schlitter, Rafael Soriano, Edwin Jackson (wasn’t too terrible in this role), Gonzalez Germen, and Phil Coke were members of said pen.  To be fair, guys like Trevor Cahill, and Travis Wood exceeded expectations in rather unfamiliar bullpen roles last year, and it wouldn’t be crazy to think that they will come back down to Earth a bit.  The fact remains though, the best arms out of that Cubs pen are back this year, and there really is no reason to expect a significant drop in performance.  Let’s break down the possible bullpen roles, yes, despite the crazy competition that will be taking place this spring.

Closer – Hector Rondon

Set up – Pedro Strop

Set up – Justin Grimm

Middle Relief – Adam Warren (acquisition) (Rotation Chance)

Middle Relief – Rex Brothers (acquisition)

Middle Relief – Neil Ramirez

Long Relief – Travis Wood

Long Relief – Trevor Cahill (Rotation chance)

On paper… on paper, that looks pretty darn good, and obviously as I write this I’m using the most optimistic thoughts as possible.  A big key here is the health of Neil Ramirez, he was outstanding in 2014, and parts of 2015 when he wasn’t battling back from injuries, a healthy Ramirez goes a long way towards a great 2016.  Adam Warren proves to be an upgrade over guys that the Cubs had to turn to last year in tough spots, like Jason Motte (again, ignore the injuries for the sake of this conversation).  There is also a chance that Warren will have an opportunity to win a rotation spot, but guys with flexibility are all the rage for Joe Maddon.  Rex Brothers, who was dominate in 2013, and struggled mightily in 2014, looks to bounce back, and if he does proves to be another rather large upgrade.  Young arms like Carl Edwards Jr., Duane Underwood Jr., and Pierce Johnson could also make an impact in the Cubs pen this year despite being starters while working their way through the organization, save for Edwards Jr. last year.

The talent pool is better than last year, and the depth is better as well, those two things put the Cubs in a good spot to start the spring.  If injuries pop up, like they absolutely will, the Cubs are in a better position to handle them, and still might have a few new additions that could surprise during camp, and win a job.

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