Cubs bullpen among MLB’s top five, according to ESPN

Rondon_Clincher(Photo by Stephen Green)

ESPN continued its team unit rankings Tuesday, moving on to major league bullpens. And if the site’s estimations are any indication of how the 2016 season will play out, the Cubs and their fans should be quite pleased. The North Side organization came in at No. 5 on the list, tops among National League teams.

The bulk of the ninth inning work for the Cubs last season was done by Hector Rondon, who had 30 saves, but seven different relievers registered saves. The Cubs should again have bullpen depth, with holdovers Pedro Strop (81 strikeouts in 68 innings), Trevor Cahill, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood and Neil Ramirez and newcomers Adam Warren and Rex Brothers. Teams like the Yankees might have more dynamic options at the back end, but the Cubs might have more depth than any other team in baseball.

Much like the 2015 starters—as noted in yesterday’s post—advanced metrics rank the Cubs relievers quite favorably compared to their NL counterparts. The Cubs bullpen finished the year with a 5.0 WAR, according to fangraphs.com, tops in the league and fourth in all of baseball. Manager Joe Maddon didn’t plug players into specific roles, but more often favored matchups, even in the latter stages of games. The ‘pen’s 3.38 ERA and 1.23 WHIP were both good for fourth best in the NL. The sheer quantity of arms at Maddon’s disposal entering the season will benefit the club as they will have a deep pool of talent to choose from.

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