Chicago Cubs: Is Rondon locked in as the closer?


The Chicago Cubs seem to always have closer questions, even when they don’t really have them. But Hector Rondon‘s struggles this spring are concerning.

You try not to overanalyze Spring Training numbers, especially in pitchers. Often times they may use an outing to focus on just one pitch, try to hit just one location. This can lead to getting hit pretty hard, but not necessarily indicative of their stuff. But the questions on Hector Rondon are now front and center as his performances have gotten progressively more worrisome.

After a relatively easy outing in his first in which he pitched a scoreless inning, Rondon has gotten progressively worse. He allowed one run on three hits on March 10, Three runs on three hits on March 13, and it came to a head yesterday as he allowed five runs on seven hits–failing to pitch a full inning. All that has equaled a 22.13 ERA in 3 2/3 innings. Is this a legitimate concern for a team with World Series aspirations?

Rondon has had these “lapses” on a few occasions in his time in Chicago. But generally he figures things out and has managed to finish strong, and that includes last season. Most fans feel that if Rondon continues to scuffle that Pedro Strop will fill in just fine–but that’s not a given. He’s had the opportunity a few times and things didn’t always go smoothly. Going from a set-up man to the closer isn’t always easy. Those last three outs are completely different.

One pitcher that is on the outside looking in that could work if Rondon’s struggles carry over into the season in Neil Ramirez. He’s shown he’s got fantastic stuff, and if not for injuries last season the talk wouldn’t be about him as much. But unfortunately, it is, because there isn’t necessarily a spot for Ramirez and he doesn’t have any options remaining. Chances of clearing waivers if the Cubs don’t have him on the Opening Day roster? Almost surely zero.

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So while Ramirez could be a tantalizing choice for “backup closer”, he first has to make the club. That would mean the Cubs would carry eight guys in the pen–which isn’t unheard of early in a season. Needless to say, all eyes will be on Rondon in his next outing.