Cubs pitching costs them repeat


Cubs outfielder Albert Almora reacts during the ninth inning of game five of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers Oct. 19. The Dodgers won game five 11-1 to defeat the Cubs 4-1 in the series.

By Eddie Garcia

For the 17th consecutive season, Major League Baseball will not see repeat World Series Champions after the Los Angeles Dodgers closed out the Chicago Cubs in five games of the National League Championship Series.

The Chicago Cubs were plagued throughout the playoffs because they were out pitched, primarily due to the lackluster performances from the bullpen against the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Nearly a year after the 108-year curse was lifted last season with the Cubs winning the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers promptly defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to one in the NLCS.

The series did not look good at all for Chicago as the reigning champions quickly saw themselves down three games to none against the high-powered Dodgers lineup.

Just about a year ago, the Cubs disposed of the Dodgers in six games with a huge boost from their pitching. The Cubs finished the 2016 NLCS with a 2.89 ERA in 53 innings, according to ESPN.

The Cubs earned run average nearly doubled in the 2017 NLCS rematch, with the pitchers allowing a combined 5.36 ERA in just 43.2 innings.

Cubs Manager Joe Maddon thinks the reason for the significant drop in play is a “World Series hangover.”

“My take on it this year was coming off the last two years, and especially having won, the team that won for the first time in 108 years, it was very difficult for the guys to get jump started in April and May,” Maddon said.

The long season may explain the Cubs lethargic presence at the plate throughout the series, as they recorded .156 combined batting average against the Dodgers pitching staff.

The Dodgers pitching staff should not be discredited. They looked ferocious in all five games as they posted a 1.64 ERA, while allowing just five walks throughout the entire series.

However, poor management and pitching performances were the real reasons for the Cubs NLCS exit.

“It’s just one of those things that you address,” Maddon said. “Our guys are so good at addressing needs in the off-season, so I really believe that will be fulfilled. But you can never expect it to be exactly the same, and that’s the other lesson learned.”

The Cubs organization addressed one of their main problems shortly after their season came to an end.

The Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio Saturday, according to the Chicago Tribune, as a team source revealed that the decision was made by Cubs manager Maddon.

Bosio was hired before the 2012 season and has served under three managers within his time in Chicago.

Despite being accredited for few career revivals, including 2015 Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the resurgence of former Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel, the Cubs bullpen ranked last in the majors in intentional walk rate.

“None of us feel good about that,” Cubs President Theo Epstein said. “We managed to have the third-lowest bullpen ERA in the National League, but we did it in a way we’re not comfortable with getting there.”

Cubs pitchers allowed 46 total walks in the 2017 postseason, while the Dodgers had just twelve.

Pitching was a key component for the Cubs success in 2016 and they simply did not have it this year.

The Cubs organization made an early statement by firing Chris Bosio and fans should not be surprised if more managerial or player moves are made.

Overall, the Cubs need to take this season as a learning experience and use that bad taste to fuel them heading into 2018.