Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio got a lot of credit for turning Jake Arrieta from an erratic thrower into a dominant, Cy Young Award-winning pitcher.
Bosio helped young pitcher Kyle Hendricks grow into an ERA champion.
Baseball cuts both ways, though, and Bosio took the fall Saturday for a bullpen that couldn’t find the plate for parts of the regular season and almost all of the postseason.
According to sources and reports, the Cubs concluded Saturday not to renew the option for Bosio’s contract for 2018.
It is possible the Cubs will consider former Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey for the job, even though Cubs manager Joe Maddon said last week Hickey wouldn’t be a candidate after he left the Rays. Hickey worked under Maddon when Maddon managed the Rays.
It would appear that Maddon engineered the firing of Bosio. Team president Theo Epstein said Friday that every coach Maddon wants back would be back.
Epstein, however, seemed displeased with the walks, especially from the bullpen, which issued 27 free passes during the postseason.
“Throw more strikes across the board in the bullpen,” Epstein said during his season-ending news conference at Wrigley Field. “Partly a player-personnel thing, but I think it goes beyond that a little bit because if you look at it – and we have – virtually every reliever that we have walked more guys this year on a rate basis, unintentional walk rate, than they did on average through their career. It was common. It could be a fluke, or it could be that there were certain situations where we tried to be too fine or certain situations where we didn’t prioritize just getting a strike at the risk of some hard contact.
“We’re openly looking at it, trying to figure a way to get better – coaches, players. We’re all trying to figure a way to get better because 30th in unintentional walk rate this year out of the pen, 26th the year before, come on, we have to be a lot better than that.”
Epstein did not return a message seeking comment Saturday, and the Cubs did not make an announcement.
Bob Nightengale, a baseball columnist with USA Today, was the first to report that the Cubs have fired their respected pitching coach.
In all, Cubs pitchers walked 53 batters over the 10-game span with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers in the postseason. That led to a 4.53 ERA in the postseason as the Cubs gave up 72 hits, 16 home runs and 44 earned runs in 872/3 innings. The staff posted a WHIP of 1.43.
Bosio joined the staff before the 2012 season and earned a World Series ring in 2016 with the Cubs, who have advanced to the National League Championship Series the past three seasons. He was hired after the 2011 season and worked under managers Dale Sveum, Rick Renteria and Maddon.