Chicago Cubs: Under the radar options for closer in 2018

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Addison Reed
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 08: Addison Reed /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 31: Brandon Morrow #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after pitching in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game six of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 31, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 31: Brandon Morrow #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after pitching in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game six of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 31, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Brandon Morrow, RHP

Let’s start with the most obvious choice right now, right-hander Brandon Morrow. Morrow was just signed by the Cubs for $21 million over the next two seasons. The deal also includes an option for a third year that would take Morrow into his age 36 season.

Morrow has been in the majors since the 2007 season when he appeared in 60 games for the Seattle Mariners. The 33-year-old has bounced back and forth between the bullpen and starting rotation throughout his career. From 2010 to 2013, when healthy, Morrow was solely a starter before moving exclusively to the bullpen in 2016 with the Padres.

After battling injuries that limited him to just 136 2/3 innings pitched from 2013 to 2016, Morrow logged 43 2/3 innings in 45 appearances for the Dodgers in 2017. Over those innings, Morrow amassed a 2.06 ERA and went a perfect 6-0. In addition to that, the right-hander struck out 50 batters and recorded a WHIP of 0.916. Most surprisingly, Morrow failed to allow a home run during the regular season.

Morrow was up and down in the postseason

Morrow appeared in his first postseason in 2017. That fact did not phase him much through the first two rounds. In the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Morrow allowed one earned run over 3 2/3 innings pitched for a 2.45 ERA. Following that series, Morrow appeared in four NLCS games against the Cubs, amassing 4 2/3 innings pitched. In that time, Morrow struck out seven batters and allowed just one hit.

During the World Series, however, the wheels came off. Morrow worked in all seven games, logging 5 1/3 innings. In that time, Morrow served up two home runs and allowed five earned runs and eight hits.

Chances to be Cubs’ closer

Brandon Morrow is kind of like the Cubs’ fall-back option if they fail to sign Wade Davis or Greg Holland. Cubs’ president Theo Epstein had this to say about the situation:

"“I think we’re pretty close to signing somebody that certainly we’d be comfortable closing games. He is the type of team player that would be willing to take any role, depending on what the rest of the personnel looks like.”"

That certainly does not rule out another option in the closer’s role, but it suggests that Morrow likely has the confidence of the Cubs’ front office in that role despite having only 18 career saves.