When it was announced that the Cubs had picked up Kevin Gregg in the middle of April, North Side fans shuddered at the flashbacks of seven blown saves and a 4.72 ERA back when the veteran righty was the Cubs closer in 2009. That is the same year of course, where Carlos Marmol was transitioned from the set up role to the closers job that he seized and ran with in September of that year. After being traded to Chicago by the Marlins that off season, Cubs fans had high expectations for Gregg on a team that was coming off of back to back NL Central Division titles. Despite recording 23 saves with a stat sheet that did not very much from his last two seasons in Florida other than ERA, Gregg’s performance along with the rest of the team fell short.
Gregg actually went 7 for 7 in save chances in May of 2009, so his current Cubs stretch of 5 for 5 should be of no surprise. However, in a bit of irony, Gregg has returned to rescue the North Siders’ closing woes yet again, this time from the young man that was supposed to have been his replacement in Marmol. His current glorious return as the Cubs save man includes no runs allowed over his 8 1/3 innings of work so far. He has also limited the walks and hits to four and three respectively while striking out 10. Gregg had an excellent Spring Training trying to hook on with the Dodgers and became available when he did not make the cut. The Dodgers loss has certainly become the Cubs gain so far.
While Gregg does not feature the nasty, hard stuff that Marmol can hurl up to the plate, the veteran righty has the most important thing going for him that number 49 does not: throwing strikes. The sports spectacled righty has been as cool as a cucumber while working both sides of the plate, providing both team and fans pitching relief in more ways than one after the closer’s role has been a black hole for the rest of the Cubs pen.
Gregg’s success has earned him the closer’s job, with the team no longer going with a closer by committee approach as evidenced by Gregg being the only one called upon in the last five save opportunities for the North Siders. Even the looming return of Kyuji Fujikawa will not affect Gregg’s role. Interestingly enough, as if not to jinx the anointing of Gregg, manager Dale Sveum started his response with “He seems to be,” when asked whether Gregg was indeed the Cubs closer. Regardless, Gregg certainly appears to have a firm grip on the job and may be taking a “nothing to lose” approach to the role after last losing the closer’s title in 2011 as an Oriole and entering the 2013 regular season as an unsigned free agent after his release from Dodger blue.
Here is hoping for continued irony in the Gregg Marmol saga with a successful season by Gregg that could lead to the 34 year old righty having more trade value than Marmol at the July deadline.