Randy Wells Warming Up At Nationals Park, Summer 2009. Photo by Rachel Levitin.
I can't even remember the last time I trusted a Cubs bullpen. It might have been 2003, but even then I can't be so sure. The Cubs had a killer starting rotation in 2003 just as they've continued to try a recreate since then. Before that, I was either too young or too caught up with staring at Mark Prior's calves or Ryne Sandberg's face to notice.
This season is proving to be no different, only now it's Randy Wells and Ryan Theriot's faces that keep me pleasantly distracted from the horrific truth -- the Cubs bullpen is rotten.
With the exception of Carlos Zambrano's embarassing start to the 2010 season, starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and Carlos Silva have a combined 1.00 earned-run average in their first starts.
That's beautiful but also heroic when you look at the past three games that the Cubs could have won and were winning, only to be blown by an array of characters from the sideshow that has become the bullpen.
Carlos Marmol seems get it though. As a relief pitcher, the job criteria reads pretty easy -- go and get some outs. Throw strikes. Don't allow earned runs. Done.
The Cubs stranded 13 base-runners throughout the game, three of which were after Derek Lee's solo homer that pulled the Cubs within one run of the Reds.
Lou's Cubs have got some work to do if they want to be a strong contender for post-season play in 2010. It's safe to say the NL Central will be locked up but not by the Cubs. That's why it's crucial to get the win count up, cultivate the youngsters in the bullpen so that they get outs instead of grand slams upsetting potential wins, and awaken those bats so they don't have to watch their teammates standing on the bases instead of high-fiving them in the dugout after scoring a run if they want to consider a run for the Wild Card.