Chicago Cubs: Hector Rondon has been a dominant closer


Although he doesn’t get much attention, the Chicago Cubs’ Hector Rondon has been one of the more valuable relievers in Major League Baseball this season.

In the National League, the two clear-cut front-runners for Reliever of the Year come from the National League Central in Trevor Rosenthal of the St. Louis Cardinals and Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The funny thing is though, no one thinks twice about Hector Rondon.

Maybe it’s because he lost the closer’s job earlier this season, only to re-emerge better than ever. Perhaps its the fact that he notched just 30 saves, a career-high for the right-hander, but a far cry from the 51 nailed down by Melancon in Pittsburgh.

Regardless of the reason, one thing is for sure: the days of looking past Rondon are over.

Appearing in 72 games this season for the Cubs, which ranked amongst the league leaders in appearances, Rondon pitched to a 1.67 earned run average, 1.000 WHIP and 4.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

This season, Rondon was a 2.1 WAR reliever; which may not sound like much, but when you consider than Melancon clocked in at a 1.9 WAR – the work of the Cubs’ right-hander is undoubtedly impressive.

Now that it’s October, the stakes are higher than ever for the young Cubs, a club looking to prove that this is no team of the past. But to do that, they’ll need Rondon on-point, as he was for much of the season, especially in the second-half, when he averaged over 10 punchouts per nine out of Joe Maddon‘s bullpen.

At Wrigley Field, the right-hander was stellar, posting an ERA just barely north of 1.00, although the majority of his saves did come on the road. He limited opposing hitters to a .212 average over the course of 70 innings of work, striking out 69 and walking just 15.

On Saturday, Rondon closed the door on the Cardinals, picking up his first career postseason save in the process – helping Chicago even the NLDS at a game apiece as the series shifts back to Chicago for Game 3 Monday night.

As the Cubs continue to push forward, having a stopper at the back-end of the bullpen is paramount: leads can evaporate without notice and having a top-notch fireman in the ninth can be the difference between life-and-death.

For Chicago, that man is Hector Rondon.

Next: Time for Cubs to be confident, not arrogant as series shifts