The Cubs bullpen showed again this weekend that it’s the team’s Achilles heel as the pitching staff allowed 32 runs in three losses to the Astros. Kyle Farnsworth gave up six runs in one inning of work Friday, and Mike Remlinger nearly matched him by allowing five in only 2/3 of an inning this afternoon. Remlinger also beaned Jeff Bagwell in the head with the bases loaded, which nearly caused a bench-clearing brawl in the bottom of the 9th when an Astros’ pitcher retaliated by hitting Derrek Lee.
Things won’t get any easier. Even though Farnsworth has had a tough month (his ERA for August is 19.29), he pitched well as the Cubs setup man in the first half. You have to believe that anybody who throws a 99-mph fastball and a wicked slider is going to get some guys out sooner or later.
Unfortunately, after his six-run meltdown Friday night, Farns threw out his knee by kicking a big industrial fan on his way to the clubhouse. He’s on crutches now and out for at least three weeks.
Todd Wellemeyer, just recalled from Iowa to take his place, may be able to help if he can cut down on his walks. He’s averaged nearly one an inning this year. On the plus side, opponents only hit .193 against him, the lowest mark on the Cubs’ staff, and his strikeout-per-game ratio is second only to Farnsworth’s.
Let’s hope Wellemeyer finds his control. Right now the only consistent pitcher out of the Cubs’ bullpen is Glendon Rusch, and he’s not a dominating shut-’em-down type. The Cubs need at least one of those if they’re going to get into the playoffs, much less make it to the World Series.