Chicago Cubs: Would Justin Grimm Excel as a Closer?

By Daniel Schmelzer
Justin Grimm Chicago Cubs
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Gregg has been solid in the closer role for the Chicago Cubs this season. He has saved  32 games in 37 chances, and has a respectable 3.45 ERA. He has been one of the lone bright spots on a team that has struggled throughout the season. The Cubs’ front office did a great job when they signed Gregg off the scrap heap early in the season.

Even with the success Gregg has had, he is obviously not the long-term answer for the Cubs in the ninth inning. I do not believe that the team will bring him back to close in 2014. The Cubs are a team that is obviously rebuilding, and giving a young pitcher a shot to take over the closer role would probably be in the best interest of the organization.

One guy who I think would excel in the closer role for the Cubs is 25-year-old right hander Justin Grimm.

The Cubs acquired Grimm from the Texas Rangers in the Matt Garza trade back in July. Grimm was a bit of an afterthought in that deal, with pitcher C.J. Edwards and third baseman Mike Olt seeming to be the best pieces going to Chicago. That being said, Grimm has some legitimate MLB potential and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.

Grimm was a starter during his time in the minors, where he put up pretty impressive numbers. The Rangers dealt with many injuries to their rotation this season, and Grimm was given a shot to start with them for a while. In 17 starts for Texas, Grimm had a 7-7 record but a very unimpressive 6.37 ERA. Obviously, it was not a successful start to his big league career.

I think Grimm does have the talent to start, and ideally he would be a mid-rotation pitcher for the Cubs in the future. That being said, I wonder if his stuff translates to the bullpen better.

Grimm was called up to Chicago when roster expanded at the beginning of this month. He has been pitching out of the bullpen and has looked pretty good in limited time. Out of the bullpen, Grimm’s fastball has been sitting in the mid 90s. He also has a great curveball that is a solid strikeout pitch when he can locate it.

One of the biggest knocks on Grimm as a starter is his lack of a third pitch. Most relief pitchers only have two pitches anyway. I think Grimm’s stuff translates to the bullpen very nicely.

Grimm was widely considered a top-10 prospect in a highly-ranked Rangers’ minor league system heading in to the 2013 season, so the talent is certainly there. Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood will obviously be starting games for the Cubs in 2014, and guys like Chris Rusin, Jake Arrieta and Carlos Villanueva will certainly be fighting for the remaining spots.

I just do not see where Grimm would fit into the Cubs’ 2014 rotation out of the gate, but at 25-years-old and with his obvious talent, he should be pitching at the major league level.

This makes me believe that Grimm will be in the bullpen next season, and there is not anybody on the current roster who I would rather see pitching in the ninth inning. I hope that the Cubs give Grimm a chance to take the job and run with it. He has the talent, and I think would really excel in the role.

Daniel is a Chicago Cubs writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @D_Schmelzer, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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