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Real or Not? New pen problems could hurt Cubs, Braves

Let’s talk about National League bullpens. The Chicago Cubs announced that closer Brandon Morrow won’t pitch again this season or in the playoffs, as he has been slow to heal from a bone bruise in his pitching arm. Pedro Strop, who has served as Morrow’s replacement as closer the past two months, is also out for the rest of the regular season and maybe the playoffs after suffering a hamstring strain while batting last week. Jesse Rogers has the story on Morrow being shut down.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Plus, teams have proven you can win with bullpen issues. In 2006, the Cardinals lost closer Jason Isringhausen late in the season. Rookie Adam Wainwright took over and St. Louis won the World Series. The 2011 Cardinals had bullpen issues most of the season, but Jason Motte took over as closer down the stretch, the bullpen pitched well in October and that team won the World Series. Consider last year’s Astros. Ken Giles blew up early in the postseason and A.J. Hinch basically had to wing it in October and ended up relying on using starters in relief.5

Still, managers like to have some certainty in the pen. The Atlanta Braves are another playoff team that is scrambling a bit in the bullpen. The Cardinals led the Braves 2-1 in the eighth — Anibal Sanchez, one of the season’s big surprises, had another good start for the Braves — and then St. Louis broke the game open off the Atlanta bullpen with four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. Braves manager Brian Snitker paraded four relievers out in the eighth (Jonny Venters and Dan Winkler allowed all four batters they faced to reach) to no avail. Not all parades are fun.

That’s four straight losses for the Braves, although they still lead the NL East by 5.5 games over the Phillies. The Phillies won Tuesday but are 5-11 in September and 9-19 since the middle of August, so they don’t seem capable of making a late push. But the Braves haven’t buried them just yet and the teams have seven games left against each other. The Phillies are only four games over .500, yet remarkably they are still very much alive.cheap nfl nike jersey

The Braves’ bullpen has a 5.67 ERA in September, and the control issues that popped up Tuesday night have plagued them all month, as the relievers have more walks (49) than strikeouts (46).

It’s not a surprise that the Brewers, Rockies and Dodgers all have winning records in September — they rank 1-2-3 in the majors this month in bullpen ERA. The point here: With the NL playoff picture still up in the air and many starters tiring down the stretch (see some of the young guys on the Braves and Cardinals in particular), the best bullpens these final 10 games might deter