The Chicago Cubs fired pitching coach Chris Bosio on Saturday after six seasons with the team, according to a report by USA Today.
The Cubs were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series after winning the World Series last season. The pitching staff finished seventh in baseball with a 3.95 ERA during the 2017 regular season, but the Cubs also had the eighth-most walks with 554.
Cubs pitchers walked 53 batters in 87 2/3 postseason innings while posting a 4.52 ERA, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called the high walk rate by the team’s relievers in particular “unacceptable” on Friday.
“Virtually every reliever we had walked more guys this year than they did on average through their career,” Epstein said, per MLB.com. “It could be a fluke, or there were certain situations where we tried to be too fine, or situations where we didn’t prioritize getting a strike.”
Bosio, 54, was hired by Epstein in 2011 and was inherited by Joe Maddon when the manager was hired in 2015. Jake Arrieta won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015, and Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks were second and third in the voting last season. Cubs starters led the NL with a 2.96 EA in 2016 and ranked fourth at 4.05 this season.
Maddon said last week that he expected his coaching staff to remain intact, making Bosio’s firing somewhat of a surprise despite the well-documented struggles of the bullpen this season.
“Rest assured Joe will have every coach back that he wants back,” Epstein said Friday.
The Cubs’ bullpen ranked last in the majors in unintentional walk rate during the regular season.
“That’s not acceptable,” Epstein said. “None of us feel good about that. We managed to have the third-lowest bullpen ERA in the National League, but we did it in a way we’re not comfortable with getting there.”
Names that have surfaced as potential replacements for Bosio include Jim Hickey, his former pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux and former Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is close to Epstein but is also a potential candidate for one of the three managerial openings.