It might already be time for the Chicago Cubs to reevaluate the anointing of Jose Veras as the team’s closer. In what had been a game that was full of “feel-good,” Veras stepped onto the field and heatburn among Cubs fans immediately skyrocketed.
The former Detroit Tiger looked sharp facing his first batter of the game, entering with a comfortable 8-1 lead on Sunday. He dispatched the first batter with some nasty movement on his curveball and then seemed to completely lose all feel for pitching.
Veras walked the next three batters, while also managing to throw a wild pitch. A bases-loaded ground out made the score 8-2 and then Veras went back to missing the strike zone altogether, walking the bases loaded again. In total, the Cubs’ closer walked four batters and was saddled with two earned runs.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria had seen enough after the fourth walk and lifted Veras in place of Pedro Strop. Strop did allow one inherited runner to score and then finally and mercifully shut the door.
The problem isn’t that Veras had a bad outing in a non-save situation on Sunday. The problem is the closer hasn’t looked good since he put on a Cubs uniform.
While this wasn’t a save opportunity, the veteran righty did blow his first save chance of the year in his only other outing in the regular season. In that game, he blew a 3-2 10th inning lead to the Pittsburgh Pirates by walking two and giving up a base hit.
That means the man who is expected to slam the door on Chicago’s opponents has now pitched two innings, walked six batters and allowed three earned runs. Those numbers follow a Spring Training where he posted a 7.00 ERA in nine outings.
That means there seems to be a pattern emerging and the Cubs brass would be wise to take a long hard look at their options if this looks like it’s going to go on for a while.