Hoyer sees Astros bullpen as model for Cubs to follow

The Cubs bullpen has been disappointing this season, but president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has a vision for what he wants it to look like.

"Talk about pockets or things like that, I want nothing more - and we're going to get there really soon - than to have a bullpen of guys that are pretty matchup indifferent," Hoyer said. "We played the Astros and that's a team that's been to four World Series recently. There's no matchups in that bullpen. They just ran through one after another, guys throwing 98 with good off-speed pitches."

During that three-game series last week, Houston relievers pitched 13 innings and the Cubs managed only a 2-run homer by Seiya Suzuki in the ninth inning of a lopsided game. On the season, the Astros rank fourth in bullpen ERA, while the Cubs are 21st.

"To me, that's really the goal, build a bullpen that has great stuff and is generally platoon-neutral," Hoyer said. "Ultimately, that's a lot easier to manage than worrying about what the left-right matchups are for the next inning."

Will the Cubs get there soon? They've been emphasizing velocity much more in recent years and have some interesting potential in the minors. Daniel Palencia, who has hit 102 miles per hour, was just added to the Iowa roster and is trying to transition from starter to reliever. Cam Sanders has hit 100 mph in Iowa, but is walking too many. Left-handers Luke Little and Bailey Horn are two more to keep an eye on, while Codi Heuer could return to the Cubs from Tommy John surgery sometime before midseason.

"I think we have a lot of young guys that are going to be really quality relievers in the big leagues, but it takes time to get there," Hoyer added. "Not only time to get through the minor leagues, but time to maybe take some lumps in the big leagues until you figure it out. So we're going to have to live with that."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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