Cubs

Kyle Schwarber proves at least one part of his game is postseason ready

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USA TODAY

Kyle Schwarber proves at least one part of his game is postseason ready

Kyle Schwarber is ready for October baseball.

That's a funny sentiment given the guy with a 1.178 postseason OPS has always looked ready for October baseball.

The Cubs left fielder had a huge day at the plate Saturday, nearly hitting the 1907 World Series championship flag in center field with a two-run shot and then later added a two-run single and a walk.

But forget about his play on the field. Schwarber proved he's ready for primetime with some slick dance moves when "YMCA" came on the loudspeakers at Wrigley Field during a Cincinnati Reds pitching change:

Even if he's not playing every day this October, Schwarber reminded everybody he'll at least provide entertainment value in the dugout.

Cubs 2018-19 pitching staff coming into focus

Cubs 2018-19 pitching staff coming into focus

Wade Davis still hasn't signed anywhere, but the Cubs have added more bullpen reinforcements while their former closer decides his future.

The Cubs are still looking for another starting pitcher and very well may be open to another reliever — whether that be Davis or not is still to be determined.

But with more than 10 days left until Christmas — a checkpoint for most free agents as they want to kick back during the holiday with family knowing where they're going to play in 2018 — the Cubs' pitching staff is taking shape with Steve Cishek now in the fold.

If the season started today, here's how the staff may look:

2018 rotation

Jon Lester
Kyle Hendricks
Jose Quintana
Tyler Chatwood
Mike Montgomery

2018 bullpen

Brandon Morrow (closer)
Carl Edwards Jr.
Pedro Strop
Steve Cishek
Justin Wilson
Justin Grimm
Dario Alvarez

Montgomery will serve as a starter at some point in 2018 even if the Cubs sign another guy. The team will either go with a six-man rotation at some point or somebody will end up on the disabled list. Injuries happen and the Cubs are hoping to play into the final week of October this year, so rest assured, they will absolutely be conservative with their starters' innings once again.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer admitted if the season started today, Morrow would be the closer. Beyond that, they acknowledged there are very few moves they could make to bump Morrow out of ninth-inning duties (though re-signing Davis would be one such move).

The Cubs will also likely go with eight relievers for much of the 2018 season with a position player group packed with versatile guys that can play multiple positions and switch-hitters. Dillon Maples may be a guy that finds his name in the bullpen mix if he can harness his control.

Cishek is another quality signing, adding even more depth in the late innings and high-leverage situation. The 31-year-old veteran has 121 career saves and can slot in as a closer if need be, though Joe Maddon also thinks Edwards and Strop can do the job and Wilson was one of the game's best closers before he hit a rough patch the final two months of 2017 in Chicago.

The Cubs' moves this winter have helped stablize the pitching staff beyond 2018. Chatwood, Morrow and Cishek are all signed under multiyear deals while Drew Smyly was also inked to a deal through 2019 as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

Here's how the 2019 pitching staff looks right now:

2019 rotation

Jon Lester
Kyle Hendricks
Jose Quintana
Tyler Chatwood
Drew Smyly

2019 bullpen

Brandon Morrow (closer)
Carl Edwards Jr.
Steve Cishek
Mike Montgomery
Justin Grimm

(Pedro Strop has a team option for the 2019 season.)

Thanks to Quintana's affordable contract, the Cubs only have around $77 million committed to the pitching staff in 2019 (plus arbitraion for Hendricks and Montgomery), so they have the flexibility to add even more depth and talent in the run prevention department.

Cubs continue to bolster bullpen by adding another former Rays pitcher

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USA TODAY

Cubs continue to bolster bullpen by adding another former Rays pitcher

The Cubs have clearly made adding to the pitching staff, and especially the bullpen, a priority in the early part of this offseason.

News broke early on Thursday morning that the Cubs reached an agreement with Steve Cishek.

Cishek is a 31-year-old right-hander who throws with a low arm-slot (see the photo above). He joins the Cubs after he was traded to the Rays just before the trade deadline this past season. He pitched under new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey while in Florida.

Cishek gives the Cubs another experienced reliever in the bullpen after the previous additions of Brandon Morrow and Drew Smyly. In eight MLB seasons, Cishek has a 2.73 ERA with 449 strikeouts in 421 2/3 innings. His high strikeout rate should be appealing in addition to the fact that 2017 was arguably the best year of his career.

After joining the Rays, Cishek posted a 1.09 ERA while striking out 26 and walking seven in 24 2/3 innings. His 2.01 ERA in 2017, when combining his numbers with the Mariners before the trade, was the lowest of his career.

The Cubs bullpen may lose its best reliever from 2017 in Wade Davis, but is trying to make up for it in depth. Cishek had career-best numbers across the board (ERA, WHIP, BB/9, H/9) in his two-month stint with Tampa, under Hickey. If Hickey saw something in Cishek that he could improve upon and Cishek delivered, the Cubs could be looking at a strong addition to the 'pen.