Maddon: Struggling Rafael Soriano could be key for Cubs’ push

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Rafael Soriano has been tough to watch at times during his first 10 days as a Cub.

MILWAUKEE – Even if the Cubs get the starting pitcher that makes their rotation deep enough to contend by Friday’s trade deadline, will they have the bullpen to pull it off?

Manager Joe Maddon said that could depend almost entirely on Rafael Soriano, the veteran right-hander who has looked rusty at best — but mostly non-competitive — since he was added to the roster July 20.

“We’ve got to get Soriano right. That would be the linchpin among the group,” Maddon said.

“The fact that he’d be able to pitch at the level that he’s pitched at in the past – combining that with the other names, that would be deep enough. I’m saying like one more guy that really is a high-leverage kind of dude.”

The Cubs, who signed Soriano to a minor-league deal in June, aren’t likely to add that guy at the deadline.

Soriano? Opponents are 7-for-20 (.350) against him in five short outings with two homers, three doubles, a walk and at least five line-drive outs (7.71 ERA)

“I can’t say that he’s had enough time to really get his stuff together,” said Maddon, who had Soriano during his 2010 All-Star season with Tampa Bay. “I’ve seen flashes of it. The consistency hasn’t been there yet.”

Maddon said he likes his two high-leverage lefties – James Russell and Travis Wood – and power right-handers Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Jason Motte.

But still needs that one more reliable leverage guy.

“If you really want to get hot, having a thick bullpen permits that to happen,” he said. “If you’re not thick enough in the bullpen it’s hard to maintain or get on that kind of a roll.”

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