Chicago Cubs: What went wrong for Hector Rondon in 2017?
By Jake Misener
Chicago Cubs: Rondon carried success with him into 2016
Just how good was Rondon early in 2016? At one point, his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) was negative 0.15. That’s right. Below-zero. Fangraphs detailed this in early May last year – and the piece is definitely worth a read for a trip down memory lane.
"Well, nobody’s matched what Rondon’s done thus far. He’s faced 43 batters, struck out 21, walked none, and allowed zero home runs. Only four batters have reached against Rondon — all singles."
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Over the first half, the hard-throwing right-hander did what he always does: strikes out hitters and limits the self-inflicted damage. You probably don’t realize just how effective Rondon was. He walked four batters, striking out 42 prior to the 2016 All-Star Break.
But then the Cubs went out and picked up Chapman in the deal that sent top prospect Gleyber Torres to the Bronx. And almost immediately, the wheels came off for Rondon.
Between August and September, the now-former Cubs closer pitched a total of just 9 2/3 innings. In August, a 15.43 ERA (four earned runs in 2 1/3 innings) seemed like an outlier. A triceps injury cost him nearly a month, but he was never the same again.
Come October, Joe Maddon used Rondon carefully and he never regained the dominance he’d shown earlier in the season. As the World Series wore on, the right-hander pitched two times – but in crunch time, it was all Chapman, all the time.