The Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 11th inning thanks to a big blast from Welington Castillo. Despite the happy outcome for the Cubs, the team is clearly facing some big worries if they want to try and compete in a very deep NL Central.
Friday night was the second straight time the Cubs blew a late-inning lead and the third time they’ve done it in four games. Two of those blown leads led directly to losses, and the latest implosion was only fixed thanks to extra innings. While Jose Veras has been a rather large cause of the problem, he hasn’t been the only perpetrator. Pedro Strop, Brian Schlitter and James Russell have all had problems keeping the opponent off the scoreboard.
The problem so far this season has been that no one in the pen has been lights-out every single outing. No one in the pen, with the possible exception of Veras, has been horrible every time out either. That makes it hard to fix the ongoing problem. There isn’t anyone in the pen who has shown the consistency needed to start putting together a bullpen together that can actually be leaned on. Wesley Wright isn’t even getting the chance, having appeared in just two games through the first 10.
So what does Rick Renteria and the Cubs do in order to fix an issue that also brought down the 2013 Cubs? The first step is to continue trying different relievers in different roles. Veras should not be the closer anymore. At the very least, he shouldn’t be the only closer. It might be time to try a committee approach until someone steps forward. Renteria was forced to do that last night, with Hector Rondon doing fairly well in the bottom of the 11th (though he did walk a batter).
Cutting the deadweight might need to be an option too. The good news is the Cubs have some decent pitchers down in Iowa and if the big league club can’t lean on the pen in Chicago, they might need to make some changes.