This article is not intended to belabor the decision Joe Maddon made to allow Pedro Strop to bat in the 10th inning Thursday in Washington. It’s a defensible decision; it came out in the worst possible way with an injury to Strop.
What happens now, Joe?
Strop will get MRI but expects to miss at least a couple weeks. Maddon doesn't know who will close in his place.— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) September 14, 2018
So the Cubs will need a closer for at least “a couple of weeks,” according to that. Who’s the best choice to do that? They could try to accelerate Brandon Morrow’s comeback, but as there were reports that his velocity was only in the 90-91 range during his last sim game, that might not be the best idea.
The Cubs do have relievers who have served as closers before, in addition to a couple of others who might be able to take over that role temporarily. Here’s a look at them.
Wilson closed for the Tigers for much of 2017 before he was traded to the Cubs, with 13 saves in 15 opportunities. He was good in that role, enough to make Theo & Co. want to trade for him. You all know how awful he was after that deal and we don’t need to belabor that.
This year, though, Wilson has been much better, and in fact over his last 18 appearances covering 9⅔ innings, he has allowed just one run. (Granted, that was the disastrous home run to Bryce Harper last Saturday). Over that span, Wilson has an 0.93 ERA, a 1.138 WHIP and 11 strikeouts. He can throw at 96-97 miles per hour.
He’s generally been very good this year, though he might be running out of gas. Over his last 10 appearances since August 27: 8.10 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, three home runs in 6⅔ innings. Yikes.
Cishek’s sidearm throwing style is one that many teams don’t see much. But with him apparently not as good now as earlier in the season, I’m not sure the Cubs would want him closing, and certainly not on back-to-back days.
Carl Edwards Jr.
At one time, it was thought CJ was being groomed as a future closer. He can hit 95+, though his velocity seems to have been a bit down since he spent some time on the DL earlier this year. He’s had trouble with command this month, issuing seven walks in three innings of work, in addition to five hits allowed. That’s a .357 opponents BA and a 4.000 (!) WHIP.
Edwards still might be a closer-in-waiting. But not now.
Chavez has been just magnificent since his acquisition: 1.45 ERA, 0.871 WHIP in 26 outings covering 31 innings. He’s walked only four and struck out 34.
He’s never been asked to be a closer before; his three saves for the Cubs this year match his entire career total before the trade in July.
It would be an unusual choice. Chavez doesn’t throw particularly hard, but does seem to know how to locate and mix up his pitches. Joe Maddon is known for offbeat choices and this might just work.
Who would you choose? One of those four? Or someone else?
Who should close for the Cubs in Pedro Strop’s absence?
This poll is closed
Carl Edwards Jr.
Someone else (leave in comments)