Confidence key for Cubs' 'pen down the stretch

Confidence key for Cubs' 'pen down the stretch

PHILADELPHIA -- Last season, Cubs reliever Justin Grimm walked 27 batters over 69 innings. This season, he's already walked 20 over 43 2/3 innings, including three on Saturday night against the Phillies. Cubs manager Joe Maddon hasn't lost confidence in Grimm.

"Against lefties, he might be the best lefty in the National League right now," Maddon said before Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Phillies.

Wait a second. Grimm is right-handed.

"He's the best lefty in the National League," Maddon repeated of Grimm, who is holding left-handed hitters to a .132 batting average. "You look at his numbers and they're absurd. I don't see anything wrong, delivery-wise, velocity, stuff."

Maddon said he likes the arms he has in the bullpen heading into the final stretch. The key now is getting them confident. That includes Grimm, who walked the bases loaded in the seventh.

"You're not going to win everything without a real consistent and strong bullpen," Maddon said. "That occupies my thought process on a daily basis.

"You pretty much know who your guys are and you'll stay with that particular group," he said. "For the most part, it'll be what you've seen all year. It's just getting them to get their confidence. All of them are having really good years."

The Cubs' bullpen isn't as set as the Royals last year.

"Physically, we have the ability to nail those innings down," Maddon said. "We haven't arrived at the Royals' ability or consistency yet, but I think physically we're there."

Worth noting

• Jorge Soler, who has not played since Aug. 24 because of a left oblique strain, played for Class A Myrtle Beach on Sunday in the Mills Cup championship series against Wilmington. Jen-Ho Tseng (7-7, 3.55 ERA) was scheduled to start for Myrtle Beach.

The addition of Austin Jackson allows the Cubs to give Soler more time to rehab rather than try to rush him back.

Soler goes back-to-back

"He needs at-bats," Maddon said of Soler. "You'd rather have him get his at-bats there."

• Maddon's mother, Beanie, was the grand marshal in a parade on Sunday in their hometown of Hazleton, Pa.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.