Cubs’ stretch conundrum: Sorting out bullpen’s pecking order

Can a team win a World Series with a bullpen by committee? The Cubs might put that notion to a test, as they did in their dramatic, 7-4 win over the New York Mets on Monday.

After fill-in closer Pedro Strop allowed the first two men to reach in the ninth inning, Chicago manager Joe Maddon had seen enough. Strop handed the ball to Justin Wilson, who handed the ball to veteran Jesse Chavez after giving up a single. All Chavez did was strike out the final two batters with the bases loaded to preserve the victory, the Cubs’ sixth win in a nike jerseys nfl

“Just breathe,” Chavez said after the game. “That’s the biggest thing. Try not to let the situation get to you. For me, having broken ribs before, twice, you kind of work on breathing programs. That helps out there. In all honesty, that has helped me a ton since that happened.”9

Chavez struck out Amed Rosario and Austin Jackson, allowing a sold-out Wrigley Field crowd to breathe again themselves. The righty finishing the job isn’t all that surprising; he has been great since being acquired from the Texas Rangers last month. The fact that he struck them both out, with a howling wind blowing toward the bleachers in center field, was very surprising.

“Our bullpen is a contact bullpen,” Maddon said. “We don’t blow people away — although we’re one of the best bullpens in baseball.”

In fact, the Cubs have made a concerted effort to bring some swing-and-miss stuff to the back end of the bullpen in recent times. Injured closer Brandon Morrow is the best example, as he had a 25.4 whiff percentage before going down with a biceps nfl jerseys nike china

But therein lies the Cubs’ problems. Morrow still isn’t sure when he’ll be back, and he is likely to pitch through discomfort when he does return. The idea of pitching in all seven game of a playoff series — as he did last season in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers — seems impossible this time around. That’s if he even returns to any sort of reliable form.