CHICAGO — Even after adding lefty Mike Montgomery to their bullpen via trade with Seattle on Wednesday, Theo Epstein made it clear the Cubs are still in search for additional bullpen help as the Aug. 1 trade deadline approaches.
Their relievers, however, believe they have enough to get the job done into October.
But even pitcher Adam Warren says he wouldn’t mind adding to the bullpen.
“I think it would be naïve to say it wouldn’t help to add a premium guy,” pitcher Adam Warren said. “But I think we have a lot of confidence in the guys we have as well. The chemistry we have in this clubhouse is pretty special right now so you hate to kind of mess with that.”
The Cubs have lost 10 games this season after entering the seventh inning with a lead or tie. They are 11-14 in one-run games.
They lost another one Tuesday, 2-1 to the Mets, after closer Hector Rondon gave up a run in the ninth. Even in Wednesday’s 6-2 victory, both runs scored against the bullpen after another strong start by Kyle Hendricks.
“We know where we are right now,” Rondon said, mentioning a lack of lefty options this season. “But I think our bullpen is fine. We need to pitch more. We need to get more confidence – not for me, but maybe for some other guys.”
Right-hander Justin Grimm described the search for additional relief as more of a want versus a need.
“We have a lot of in-house guys that can get it done,” said Grimm, who has struggled this season (5.17 ERA) after playing a significant role during last year’s playoff run. “It’s completely out of my hands so it’s nothing I can control. I believe in the job that I can do and I believe in the guys in this locker room.”
The Cubs’ bullpen ranks in the middle of the pack in the majors with a 3.85 ERA and has blown 10 of 27 save chances this year.
Not surprisingly, some of the other top playoff contenders have bullpens that rank among the best in the game — Washington, Kansas City, Baltimore and the Mets all among the top six.
Among a thin choice of options around the league, pitchers such as the Yankees’ Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are among the top targets for the Cubs – and other contenders such as the Giants and Indians.
Warren, who was traded from the Cubs by the Yankees in December, knows first-hand what Miller brings to the back end of a bullpen.
“I know him really well…he’s pretty easy going so I could see him fitting in this clubhouse,” Warren said. “As good as he’s been, I feel like it might take a lot to get him.”
Chapman, whose fastball reached 105 mph in a game Monday, also comes with off-the-field baggage. He served a suspension this season for a domestic violence allegation.
That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be the pitcher the Cubs need or be able to function well within the clubhouse. But in general chemistry matters, players say.
And even on the field, the best-laid plans don’t always work – something team officials have cautioned in recent days.
“We have good guys,” Warren said. “But you just have to be careful when making changes just because it might look good on paper.”