Justin Wilson can either make the Chicago Cubs bullpen great, or give everyone watching a headache. The struggles have been documented and he’s shown flashes of being good early on in 2018, but Thursday against the Pittsburgh Pirates was definitely not one of those instances. Joe Maddon didn’t help out either.
The Cubs were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, when Wilson came in to face the top of the order for the Pirates that featured lefties Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco hitting one and two. Frazier made an out, but then Polanco cranked out his second homer of the game. Obviously not great, as the Cubs fell behind 3-1, but also you’d rather see that than more walks from Wilson.
Well, it was just the Cubs luck that Wilson then walked two of the next three batters. It only got worse though, with Francisco Cervelli stepping to the plate. Wilson went down in the count 2-0, and after a mound visit, Cervelli hit a three-run home run to give the Pirates a 6-1 lead and essentially putting the game out of reach for the Cubs.
Wilson allowed a single and then walked another batter before Maddon pulled him.
It was too late at that point and Maddon picked the wrong time to give a confidence boost to Wilson, who probably should have been yanked after the first walk and especially after the second walk. Steve Cishek, who eventually came in to get the final out, should have been in against Cervelli.
And it’s completely OK to show your guys some confidence, but this wasn’t the time to do it and Maddon should have also considered the negative downside to leaving Wilson in.
Wilson has now walked three hitters in two of his last three relief appearances.
Simply the wrong time to try and show some confidence when it was evident that Wilson was struggling.
The Cubs are now 6-6, and will continue their homestand Friday against the Atlanta Braves. Yu Darvish will make his Wrigley Field debut as a Cub, starting at 1:20 p.m.