Chicago Cubs: Future in mind, Dillon Maples could be a guy to watch
Wade Davis and Addison Reed are available. Maybe the Chicago Cubs stand pat, perhaps their answer at closer is in-house. Maybe another candidate emerges.
The Chicago Cubs have made it their mission to attack the weakness that loomed last October, and quite honestly, well before the playoffs. The bullpen.
First came Brandon Morrow, fresh off becoming the second Major League pitcher to participate in all seven World Series games. Then Drew Smyly, who has the potential to relieve later in the season once he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and Steve Cishek, a ground-ball pitcher, who comes over from Seattle.
About the bullpen, they might be done with their offseason chore. Maybe Wade Davis or even Addison Reed is still in play, though the latter is being linked to the Rockies. Potentially both are.
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As things currently stand, Morrow likely leads the depth chart atop the bullpen, acting as the unofficial closer. Or unofficial until otherwise noted. Maybe in-house candidates further develop, such as Pedro Strop, who never gets the appreciation or recognition he deserves among fans. Possibly Carl Edwards Jr. is destined to close games.
Maybe the six-foot-two, 25-year-old, Dillon Maples is a guy who can take those reigns. At least eventually. But perhaps not until after 2018.
Inside the Cubs’ system since 2012, Maples’ minor league trek saw him begin as a starter before transitioning to becoming a reliever. In 2017, Maples was one of the rare players to jump from Single-A to the majors, with stops in Double-A and Triple-A in between.
For the Cubs, Maples appeared in six games, whiffing 11 batters in 5 1/3 innings.
For a guy who nearly quit baseball, to climbing the ladder from the rung of low-A ball to the majors in a single season, who is to say, Maples does not have the fortitude or intangibles deep inside to be among the most valuable and dependable guys on the field, and mound in the ninth?
As illustrated in Jesse Rogers‘ piece last September, one scout said Maples possessed a slider as devastating as he’d seen. Beyond the physical attributes, it’s the mentality that changed for Maples. As Rogers elaborates, “unprepared and anxious turned into prepared and confident.”
Explained Maples, “every day is the same. It has to be the same. You know it’s worked in the past.”
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Maples appears to have the right mental makeup, if the progression a season ago through the minors wasn’t enough to depict that. Obviously, aside from having an opportunity in camp, Maples will try to show his promise for the big league club, potentially for later in the year. And especially with the future in mind.
While it looks like Morrow might be the man for the job now, could they have the future solution in Dillon Maples? It could be one reason the Cubs appear to be keeping the leash on closer to a year-to-year basis.