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How The Aroldis Chapman Trade Affects The Cubs Bullpen

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Where do the various members of the Cubs' pen stand after this acquisition?

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Aroldis Chapman is now a Chicago Cub. (Not words I expected to write this year!)

The lefthander, who throws 100 miles per hour plus, has converted 20 of 21 save opportunities since his reinstatement from MLB suspension in early May.

He's also on a nice scoreless streak -- no runs allowed in his last nine appearances covering 11⅓ innings. In those innings he's allowed four hits and four walks (0.706 WHIP) and struck out 13.

Where does the team stand now, both roster-wise and bullpen-wise?

With Adam Warren heading back to the Yankees in this deal, no one else has to be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for Chapman. However, there will have to be a deletion from the 25-man roster for Chapman and the obvious choice there is Clayton Richard, who will likely be designated for assignment. That will leave an open space on the 40-man, in case Theo & Co. want to make further deals.

You'd think Chapman would automatically be installed as "the" closer, but often Joe Maddon doesn't work that way. With current closer Hector Rondon being righthanded and Chapman lefthanded, Maddon could mix and match closing opportunities based on matchups. It's worth noting that Rondon has had just one more save opportunity than Chapman this year, despite being on the active roster for a month longer than Chapman. This is because the Cubs have won so many blowouts -- they're 29-9 in games decided by five or more runs.

So this acquisition gives Maddon much more room to maneuver with his pen. He could set it up with Pedro Strop in the seventh, Rondon in the eighth and Chapman in the ninth, reverse the latter two, or give both Rondon and Chapman breaks by alternating. Or, he might wind up using either Rondon or Chapman in a higher-leverage situation in the seventh or even earlier, rather than saving one of them for an "easy" save (three-run lead in the ninth). Many managers won't do this with their designated "closer" -- but I bet Maddon would.

Chapman might have to rest a day -- he threw 36 pitches in the Yankees' extra-inning loss to the Giants on Saturday, though he wasn't responsible for the loss.

In any case, this acquisition does give the Cubs a lot more flexibility in the late innings, not to mention one of the most dominant closers of recent years.