Cubs fans criticizing manager Joe Maddon’s bullpen decisions is nothing new. Maddon has received flak regarding his bullpen use for much of his Cubs tenure, dating back to 2016 over his use of Aroldis Chapman in the World Series.
The latest criticism stems from Maddon’s bullpen use on Friday against the Brewers, when he inserted Pedro Strop into a 2-1 game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Strop, who has struggled in July (seven earned runs, 12 hits in nine innings), allowed two inherited runs to score, giving the Brewers a 3-2 lead – the game’s eventual final score.
In an interview with 670 The Score on Tuesday, Maddon defended how he’s used his bullpen as of late.
"Fans, again, they have this really ridiculous concept about bullpens and bullpen management," Maddon said on the Laurence Holmes Show. "They have no idea really what all goes into it. At the end of the day, you can make a decision that may be the absolute proper and right thing to do, but it doesn't work out and then it's perceived as being wrong.
“That's a really bad process. Again, we talk about the bullpen before the game. We set up our guys against their guys before the game ever begins. Sometimes it doesn't work. It's not going to be perfect every time."
Fans also expressed displeasure when Maddon pulled starter Jon Lester on Saturday after seven shutout innings on Saturday. The Brewers scored twice in the eighth to tie the game, with the Cubs needing four relievers to get out of the inning. Milwaukee later scored three times in 10th inning, scoring a walk-off 5-3 win.
To Maddon’s defense, the Brewers’ eighth inning and 10th inning runs were charged to Steve Cishek and Craig Kimbrel, respectively, two of the Cubs’ most reliable relievers. Maddon put his team in position to succeed, but it just didn’t work out, which he noted.
“So, you set it up beforehand. You try to put your guys in the best possible spot. When it doesn't work out, that doesn't mean it was wrong. It means it didn't work out in that moment. And that's called baseball."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.