Here are the names of some pitchers who were in the Cubs bullpen in September 2021:
Jason Adam, Joe Biagini, Rex Brothers, Dillon Maples, Adam Morgan, Trevor Megill.
Those six pitchers combined for a 4.95 ERA, 1.449 WHIP, 87 walks and 194 strikeouts in 147 innings in 2021. That’s... pretty bad. (And that includes Biagini allowing no runs at all.)
The good news is that not one of those pitchers will be a Chicago Cub in 2022. Instead, the Cubs have brought in Steven Brault, Mychal Givens, Chris Martin, Daniel Norris, David Robertson and Drew Smyly, all of whom have had success at the MLB level. Two of them (Robertson and Givens) have previously been closers. Smyly could wind up as a swingman. One note about Brault:
LHP Steven Brault's deal with Cubs is going to be a Minor League contract with non-roster invite (with a July opt-out). The pitcher is currently dealing with an injury setback.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 21, 2022
In Majors, Brault's deal comes with $1.5M salary, plus $400K available in bonuses.
For now, then, the Cubs will not need a 40-man roster spot for Brault. They will need one for Givens, whose signing has not yet been officially announced by the team. He’s the only one of the flurry of signings last week whose deal has not been made official.
The Cubs will bring eight relievers to Chicago for Opening Day April 7. Who will they be?
Five of the pitchers noted above will almost certainly be in that group, all but Brault, who will likely not be ready for Opening Day.
So that’s Givens, Martin, Norris, Robertson and Smyly. (Or, Justin Steele, if Smyly makes the rotation.)
The other three members of the Opening Day bullpen, in my view, will be Scott Effross, Rowan Wick and Keegan Thompson. Thompson started Monday’s game but might be better suited to relief. The team might also choose to bring Jesse Chavez north with them from camp in Arizona. If so, another 40-man roster spot would have to be cleared.
There are two other non-roster candidates who I think have an outside shot at making the Opening Day bullpen: Locke St. John and Eric Yardley. Yardley has had some MLB success (though he was bad last year) and threw well in Monday’s game. Both of those pitchers would also require a 40-man roster spot.
Also keep in mind that MLB and the MLBPA might agree to have 28-man rosters for the first few weeks of the season, in an effort to minimize pitcher injuries because of the shortened Spring Training. The additional players would likely be required to be one pitcher and one position player. If that’s the case the additional pitcher would likely come from the names I’ve mentioned in this article.
Got other guys you think should make it? Let us know in the comments.