Cubs who should take the fall for the collapse: The bullpen
Yep, we're copping out here. Instead of picking just one guy, we're placing blame on the entire Chicago Cubs bullpen.
If we did want to pinpoint one individual, however, it would likely have to be Mark Leiter Jr.
Prior to September, Al Leiter's nephew had a 2.84 ERA with 26 holds and four saves. But during the final month, the 32-year-old had an 8.59 ERA with just two holds and blew two saves, including the middle game of the series against Atlanta, which the Cubs lost in extra innings.
One could also point to Marcus Stroman, who made a couple of relief appearances upon his return from the disabled list, one of which resulted in a blown save against the Diamondbacks.
But, again, the entire Chicago bullpen needs to take some heat here. After all, the unit as a whole made some unfortunate MLB history in the final two weeks of the season.
From September 16 to September 28, two days before they were officially eliminated from the playoffs, the Cubs held a lead in seven different innings on the road in the eighth or later. They blew the lead in the bottom half of those innings all seven times.
Prior to that, no MLB team in the modern era had blown a lead in more than five consecutive road innings in the eighth or later. So there's that.
But what's done is done. Assuming David Ross keeps his job, which he likely will, seeing as how the Cubs weren't even supposed to contend for a playoff berth this year, he'll simply have to learn from this experience and move forward. The same goes for each and every player who faltered during the final three weeks of the season.
Just wait 'til next year, right?