If you had to name the one Cubs player who was the biggest surprise of the year it might be Jeremy Jeffress. When it comes to filling a bullpen, the front office tends to accumulate as many lower-tier relievers as they can find and hope a few of them pan out. It’s ultimately frustrating for fans, but it’s difficult to argue with the results.
The Cubs finished the year with one of the best bullpens in baseball and Jeffress was a big reason why. When Craig Kimbrel struggled to start the season, David Ross moved Jeffress to the closer’s role and the 33-year-old didn’t disappoint. He effectively mixed his fastball, curve, and splitter to induce ground balls at an impressive rate (54.4%), and though he didn’t exhibit the swing-and-miss stuff you see from a typical closer, he blew just two saves while posting a nifty 1.54 ERA.
Jeremy Jeffress, 94mph Paint…and K Strut.[Jeffress won K strut of the year in 2018 and is looking for the comeback K strut of the year award]
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 13, 2020
There were some red flags, however, and his 4.09 FIP suggests Jeffress was considerably lucky. He also averaged 4.6 walks per nine innings, so his saves weren’t always pretty. The righty signed a one-year contract before the season and the Cubs would probably like to re-sign him as Kimbrel’s backup, but it will have to be on a team-friendly deal given the current financial situation and uncertainty going forward.
- Final Stats: 23.1 IP, 17/12 K/BB, 1.54 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 0.2 fWAR, 4 Wins, 8 Saves
- Final Grade: B
Cubs News & Notes
- Two Cubs were awarded Gold Gloves yesterday. Anthony Rizzo won his fourth such award, while Javier Báez finally earned his first after being robbed last year.
- Báez is thinking about getting a new tattoo in honor of his award.
- You’ll have to scroll down to the middle of the article to catch this tidbit, but Joel Sherman of the NY Post seems to think the Cubs may be motivated to move Yu Darvish to cut payroll, and if so, the Mets could be likely suitors.
- Darvish has been named a finalist for the NL Cy Young Award. The winner will be announced one week from tonight. Darvish is considered by many to be the favorite over Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Jacob deGrom of the Mets.
- Ross has a chance to win the award for NL Manager of the Year. Also named as finalists are Don Mattingly of the Marlins and Jayce Tingler of the Padres. Ross is the longshot here, especially considering the job Mattingly did in Miami. MLB will announce the winner on November 10.
- If the Cubs decide to move Kris Bryant, the Blue Jays, Nationals, Braves and Dodgers would likely be most interested in the former Rookie of the Year and NL MVP. I’d add the Mets to that list, too.
- The Blue Jays are well positioned to make a big trade or two and need a third baseman.
- The Cubs have eight arb-eligible players including Bryant, and all could potentially be trade chips.
- MLBTR has published their annual breakdown of the top 50 free agents, and their predictions include José Quintana going to the Red Sox, Jon Lester signing with the Braves, Tommy La Stella staying with the A’s, James Paxton going to the White Sox, and Chris Archer going to the Cubs. Tyler Chatwood did not make the list. Neither did Daniel Descalso, in case you were wondering.
- Based on budget constraints and contention window, the Cubs are the 14th best destination for free agents this winter.
- The Cubs could benefit thanks to a general lack of spending across baseball this winter.
Odds & Sods
Though Corey Seager, Clayton Kershaw, and the rest of the Dodgers certainly deserve all the accolades that come with winning the World Series, I’m still in awe of the postseason run by Randy Arozarena.
List of MLB players to hit 10 homers in a single Postseason.
1. Randy Arozarena
That's it. That's the list. pic.twitter.com/HkJu0vb0IL
— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 28, 2020
Here’s a complete list of Gold Glove winners from both leagues.
The unthinkable happened Monday when Mike Trout was revealed to not be among the three finalists for the 2020 American League MVP award. The finalists are José Abreu (White Sox), DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) and José Ramírez (Indians).
The Angels now have 14 candidates to potentially fill their open GM position. Can we rely on polls to project the winner?
Rob Manfred is still not ruling out a neutral-site World Series for 2021 and beyond. He’s also in favor of keeping the expanded playoffs.
MLB and other professional sports are naming the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 election as the reasons for decreased television ratings.
No glove, no love.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 4, 2020
Sliding Into Home
I have another afternoon chock full of medical tests today, and I have another density test scheduled for November 13. I feel good and I’ve now dropped over 35 pounds since March 31, though I still have another 25 or so to go. It’s often tough to face all of this alone, so I just want to express my gratitude to all of you for motivating me.
They Said It
- “Bullpen management can be really tough on any manager, especially a first-year manager. And I know every manager’s always second-guessed for their bullpen moves from time to time. But if you look at it, our bullpen has really grown over the course of the season.” – Theo Epstein
- “I tried to set those [relievers] up to succeed in a number of ways, but it’s also about trust and handling the moment, that the players do. And that’s what I’m most proud of, is the guys down there that have handled some really tough situations that I’ve brought them into and continued to step up with a lot of adversity.” – David Ross
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Dreams by Fleetwood Mac – Amidst a sea of political commercials airing non-stop for most of the past month, the ‘Mac cranberry juice commercial has been a welcome respite. Nathan Apodaca should consider a run for president in ’24.