Holding a lead going into the 8th inning for the second game in a row against the St. Louis Cardinals the Cubs bullpen faltered once again. Following Saturday’s poor showing by Carl Edwards, Jr. this time it was the returning Hector Rondon who coughed up the lead. The occasional poor performance is a given over a 162 game season. And both FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus still project the Cubs as finishing the season with MLBs most wins, the highest probability of winning the NLDS and NLCS as well as the highest probability to win the World Series. But is it time to start worrying about the Cubs playoff odds given the bullpen struggles?
This is not the first time this season the Cubs have struggled. Following an incredibly fast start to the season the Cubs played .500 ball for two months before getting hot again following the All-Star break. One prominent issue was the bullpen. Multiple trades were conducted in order to attempt to shore up this weakness. Unfortunately, Joe Smith has struggled in his first outings for the club as has Mike Montgomery. Pedro Strop is out 4-6 weeks following a knee injury. These trades and injuries have necessitated a constant reshuffling, perhaps contributing to the bullpen unease. And the team continues searching reclamation projects and castoffs to provide a spark.
Two games is too small a sample size for any real concern, but the bullpen fluctuations and ineffectiveness cannot continue for much longer before the Cubs must start to worry.