Chicago Cubs have choices to make regarding the future of the ninth inning
Tony Watson evolved into a promising reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since making his big-league debut in 2011, he was primarily used in middle relief and setup roles for closer Mark Melancon. He then became the team’s closer in 2016 following the trade of Melancon to the Nationals.
Watson’s tenure in the role down the stretch was good with the exception of a few rough outings in September, primarily a four-run appearance against the Cardinals, which hit his ERA for the month (5.06).
He ended up converting 15/20 save opportunities and allowed 10 earned runs in the final two months of the season for a 3.86 earned run average. From Opening Day that year through July, and prior to taking over as closer, he had a 2.64 clip.
Watson started the 2017 season as the Bucs’ closer, but a good April turned into an ugly May (eight earned runs, 5.14 ERA) and he was removed from the role. The Dodgers acquired him in late July to attempt to bolster their relief depth.
In 24 games out west, he put together a 2.70 ERA to close out the season and took the Dodgers’ lone NLCS loss, Game 4 against the Cubs.
What to expect?
He’s not going to be closing games for teams in 2018, outside of something happening to a team’s closer, but he can be valuable in middle-to-late relief.