When a team loses 101 games, it's hard to call any part of that team a "strength."
But the Cubs did have some good moments from their bullpen in 2012, and relief pitching looks to be strengthened for this year with the signing of Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa.
We'll save closer Carlos Marmol for our next segment, but Marmol was a contributor with 19 consecutive save chances converted, from May 2-Sept. 14.
There were other accomplishments:
• Right-hander Shawn Camp, picked up as a minor-league free agent last year in spring training, wound up tying for the major-league lead in appearances, with 80. He also led Cubs relievers with 131⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings and 18 holds.
• James Russell established himself as one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. He led qualifying Cubs relievers in ERA (3.25) while making a career-high 77 appearances.
The Cubs this year come back with Marmol as their closer, until and unless he is traded. Camp re-signed as a free agent, and Russell was rewarded with a nice new contract.
Fujikawa should take a lot of the pressure — not to mention innings workload — off Camp and Russell late in games.
At 32 years old, Fujikawa was an interesting signing by the Cubs, who had talked of signing free agents on "the right side" of 30. But age was not a primary factor in this signing.
"His durability certainly was," said general manager Jed Hoyer. "He's been really durable over there, some small injuries. But if you look at his track record, he's taken the ball every year. He's pitched in a lot of games.
Cubs’ bullpen should be even stronger this year
Daily Herald Tribune | Mar 6