The Cubs’ shaky bullpen
Postseason baseball is vastly different from the regular season, with pitching roles being among the main differences. In the postseason, relievers take on a much bigger role, with relievers in the back-end of the bullpen especially being handed more responsibility.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the back-end of their bullpen has faltered so far this series. Carl Edwards primarily pitched the eighth inning for the Cubs in the regular season, pitching to a 2.98 ERA in 73 games. Wade Davis primarily pitched the ninth inning for the Cubs in the regular season, pitching to a 2.30 ERA and converting 32 of his 33 save opportunities.
Edwards and Davis were lights-out for the Cubs in the regular season. However, the dynamic duo, Edwards especially, has struggled in the postseason.
Edwards has appeared in each of the first four games of the series, pitching to a 19.29 ERA and allowing five runs in 2.1 innings. He has also pitched in both eighth inning explosions for the Nats, allowing three runs in Game 2 and two runs in Game 4.
These struggles should not come as a surprise, as Edwards also struggled against the Nats in the regular season. In four regular season games this season, he allowed eight runs in just three innings.
In addition to Edwards, Davis has also struggled a bit. He relieved Edwards in Game 4, entering a bases loaded jam with one out. Then, he did something he did only six times in the regular season: allow a home run.
Michael Taylor crushed Davis’ high fastball for a grand slam against the wind, breaking the game open. Following the grand slam, pinch-hitter Adam Lind singled, ending Davis’ brief outing.
Bullpens play a big role in postseason baseball, but key members of the Cubs’ bullpen have struggled, which could be detrimental for the defending champs.