The closer by committee was never a good idea, and thankfully, Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum figured that out sooner rather than later. The Cubs have announced that reliever Kevin Gregg will be the full-time closer going forward.
The Cubs gave Gregg another go around in Chicago when they signed him to a Minor League deal on April 14. He made his first appearance with the team five days later and has not looked back since. The 34-year-old has recorded five saves in five opportunities and 10 strikeouts without surrendering an earned run in nine appearances.
“The problems we had, it was a great, great pickup, and he’s ran with it and done a heck of a job,” Sveum said, according to Cubs.com. “[Gregg] is a veteran guy who doesn’t panic. He’s been in those situations before. Those last three outs aren’t made for everybody. He throws strikes and has some life on his fastball. He can work both sides of the plate, that’s the good thing about it.”
Chicago went through two closers in Carlos Marmol and Kyuji Fujikawa this season before being forced to use Gregg. Obviously, fate had laid its cards down, as the right-hander has been nothing but a blessing for the struggling Cubs.
Four pitchers combined for six blown saves before Chicago gave Gregg an opportunity. Marmol and Shawn Camp each blew two saves, while Fujikawa and Michael Bowden blew one a piece.
Considering the bullpen ranks 12th in the National League with a 4.75 earned run average, it is comforting to know that the closer role is locked down for now. Who knows where they would be ranked without Gregg and setup man James Russell, who has a 0.68 ERA in 13 1/3 innings.