A former Rule 5 pick, Rondon was expected to settle in on the back-end, possibly as the set-up man for Jose Veras, who was acquired to be the closer in the winter. But Veras’ time in Chicago was short, as he struggled from the start, maaking a trip to the DL before being DFA’d.
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Rondon was thrust into the closers role, and early on seemed to fill the role well. Things got a bit shaky for him in June and July, as he went 2-2, saving eight games, but blowing two saves as well. He posted a 5.60 ERA, allowing 11 ER in 17 2/3 innings. Some questioned if the Cubs shouldn’t give Pedro Strop a shot at the role with Rondon’s struggles. The Cubs stuck with Rondon, and he finished the year, erasing any doubt they may have had of his ability to close games.
From August 1 through the rest of the season, he was as good as they would get. 2-1, 15/16 save opportunities, two runs in 23 innings for a miniscule 0.78 ERA. The value of Rondon can not be overstated. So many times, teams overpay for late inning guys (like the Cubs with Veras), and lose on the deal. Having a “homegrown” closer is a true value in the league these days.
With the strong season’s of Neil Ramirez, Strop and Rondon, the Cubs can be excited about their bullpen moving into 2015. And there are more young arms on the way up, including Arodys Viscaino.
With Joe Maddon coming in, we’ll have to see if the Cubs stick with Rondon, or open the job up to one of the other strong bullpen arms. Maddon is a smart baseball man. He can look at the same numbers we can and see the quality the Cubs got from the young closer. He made a lasting impression with most fans down the stretch, and I think locked in the job for him next season.