The Chicago Cubs needed Aroldis Chapman in order to win in 2016. The Cubs need Wade Davis in 2017, but might not need to rely as heavily on him.
Closers in baseball can be tough to find. It’s not an easy job as the pitcher is provided with very little margin for error when they pitch. The Chicago Cubs have struggled to find a really good closer over the years. Sure, longtime fans remember Lee Smith, but most fans want to forget Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg and even Joe Borowski from more recent years.
In fact, Carlos Marmol is third on the Cubs all-time save leaders list with 117. Only Lee Smith (180) and Bruce Sutter (133) have more. The Cubs never seemed to really be focused on finding a top of the line closer – until 2016.
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Arguably, the hardest thrower in baseball (with a fastball clocked as high as 105 mph), Chapman seemed like a dream come true. For the most part, he held his end of the bargain.
With the Cubs in 2016, Chapman was 1-1 with a sparkling 1.01 ERA in 28 games. Chapman recorded 16 saves in 18 chances. But this article isn’t about Chapman. It’s about new Cub Wade Davis.
However, Chapman really set the bar for closers, and while others may disagree, I believe that the Cubs do not win the World Series without Chapman.
With Rondon and Pedro Strop far from 100 percent, there’s no way they are able to close out some of those games in 2016. Remember that eight-out save that Chapman converted in Game 5 of the World Series? It really showed how important he was.
Is Davis the best closer in baseball?
The same can be said for the Cubs 2017 closer, Wade Davis. One can argue that Davis is an even better closer than Chapman.
While he doesn’t throw nearly as fast as Chapman, Davis owns the lowest earned run average of any pitcher in baseball over the last three seasons. Since 2014, Davis has a combined ERA of 1.18 (not counting 2017). That’s completely ridiculous. Further, he has allowed just one home run in the last three seasons. One.
Clearly, this guy is incredibly talented. To start 2017, Davis is already 2-0 and has yet to allow a run in just under eight innings pitched. He’s been the Cubs best and most consistent reliever so far and his role is only going to increase.
Joe Maddon has indicated that he doesn’t plan on using Davis for more than one inning very often, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out. If the Cubs bullpen struggles down the stretch or especially in the playoffs, there’s no doubt Maddon will call on him for more than three outs. I have full faith that he will get the job done too.
With that being said, the Cubs bullpen should be much improved this season. Hopefully, they don’t have to rely so heavily on Davis. The Cubs needed Chapman in order to win because the bullpen was a mess. Maddon wasn’t able to trust anyone.
The Cubs need Davis too. Nobody knows what the Cubs bullpen situation will be come October. Davis himself was injured last year and missed time. Closers are very valuable in baseball today. If the Cubs want to repeat as champions, they need a healthy Wade Davis all season long. So far, so good.