While the Cubs have gotten off to a slow start, the team has shown one surprising strength, the Bullpen. After 56 games the Cubs record stands at 29-27. That's far below what was expected. Pretty much every hitter has gotten off to a rocky start, as have the starting pitchers, but not the bullpen.

That's a relief

The acquisition of closer Wade Davis for outfielder Jorge Soler has been a life saver for the Cubs. Davis is 12-12 in save opportunities to go with a record of 2-0. There has been little drama when Davis takes the ball in the 9th. Davis' ERA of 0.89 attests to that.

Meanwhile, Carl Edwards Jr.

has locked down the 8th inning. At 0.83, Edwards has an even lower ERA than Davis. Edwards has electric stuff and has settled nicely into the setup role.

Setup and take notice

Pedro Strop and Koji Uehara have filled in nicely win the 7th and 8th innings. Uehara has had a couple of rough spots, but has generally been a nice pickup. In addition to his work in the 7th and 8th innings, Uehara provides a nice option as closer when Davis is unavailable. Strop has been what he has been for the last few years, a solid 7th and 8th inning option.

As for the other side...

Mike Montgomery has been the primary left handed option out of the pen. While Montgomery sports an unimpressive 0-3 record, that's deceptive.

Montgomery has two saves, which in itself is not so impressive, but their duration is. One of Montgomery's saves was for four innings and the other was for three plus innings. That takes a huge load off the rest of the pen. Brian Duensing has been surprisingly effective as the other lefty out of the pen.

There's still room for improvement

Hector Rondon has been erratic out of the pen and Justin Grimm has been up and down. Still, when you're looking for reasons why the Cubs are at the top of their division despite poor starts by their stars, look to the Cubs bullpen.

What happened?

In the meantime almost every Cub hitter has performed below expectations.

Even 2016 MVP, Kris Bryant has been in a slump. Kyle Schwarber has fallen off a cliff, hitting below .170. Addison Russell been nearly as bad, hitting around .210. Anthony Rizzo has been around .230 for a good bit of the year, but seems to be coming around.

It's not all bad, but almost.

Miguel Montero has hit surprising well as the Cubs backup catcher and last year's biggest disappointment, Jason Heyward, has been in the ,250s, but also seems to be coming on.

It'll probably get better.

The real strength of the 2016 Cubs was their starting pitching. This year Jake Arrieta, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks have all suffered a serious regression. They figure to recoup some of that. In the meantime, the Cubs pen marches on.

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