Inexplicably, Sweet Lou has tabbed Howry for the postseason bullpen. "I need Bob to pitch well," Piniella said. "I had a nice little meeting and told him we need him to get nice and sharp and pitch well for us." Howry has a 7-4 record in relief this year, along with a 5.17 ERA. He has improved somewhat in the last 30 days, posting a 3.72 ERA along with 2 wins and an impressive showing against the Mets.
Still, 2008 is shaping up to be Howry's worst full-season in the big leagues in his 11 year career. He has allowed career highs in home runs and runs. His ERA is almost two full points over his 2006 and 2007 seasons with the Cubs.
Here's a sampling of headlines from Cubs.com this year:
- "What's wrong with Howry?"
- "Howry struggling to find consistency."
- "Howry having his troubles in July."
- "Howry...[has] rough April for Cubs."
Yes, he is a veteran ballplayer. Yes, middle relief is a difficult position with little accolades. And yes, if it wasn't Howry it would be Scott Eyre or Kyle Farnsworth or any number of past middle relievers who've been lit up. I don't know what the answer is, or whether Chad Gaudin, Kevin Hart, Michael Wuertz, or Neal Cotts have proven that they're better options for the postseason roster. (All of them have posted worse ERAs than Howry in the past 30 days.) Let's just hope that Lou sees something that Cubs' fans don't in Bob Howry, and that Lou's decision is the right one.