The three veterans at the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen have made headlines already this young season.
Relievers Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel went on a streak of 50 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. They also teamed up with Zach Davies this series to throw a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers.
Have they done enough for All-Star team selections? Cubs manager David Ross sees them as some of the deserving pitchers on his team.
The fans elect position players to the All-Star teams’ starting lineups, and the Cubs have five All-Star ballot finalists. But the reserves and pitchers are chosen through player ballots and commissioner’s office selections.
Asked which of his pitchers should be considered for the All-Star game, Ross pointed to Kyle Hendricks, who leads the National League with 10 wins. He brought up Zach Davies’ recent improvement.
“Our bullpen, I feel like I could grab a ton of guys,” Ross continued. “Obviously the big 3 that have been shutting down games for us in Kimbrel, Tepera, Chafin.”
Kimbrel, the Cubs closer and already a seven-time All-Star, is expected to make the All-Star team again this year. Kimbrel’s 20 saves entering play Sunday are second to only Padres closer Mark Melancon’s 23. And Kimbrel (1-2, 0.59 ERA) has the better ERA.
“The setup guys, I don’t think they get the love as much as the closers do,” Ross said. “Especially if you’re making an All-Star team, you have so many teams, it’s easy to grab the back end of the bullpen guys that have the saves and are closing things out.”
That could work against Tepera and Chafin. Tepera (0-1, 2.34) has a 1.33 ERA in May and June. Chafin (0-1, 1.64) is having a career year.
“I definitely think Chafin and Tepera for me,” Ross said, “that’s that reason we’re in the position we’re in – towards the top of our division, winning a lot of these ballgames – has really been a lockdown bullpen.”