When I say Justin Wilson, what’s the first thing you think of? Terrible trade? That might be true, but it was far from that. Whether it turns out to be successful is yet to be seen, but he’s not a bust. In fact, even with the debacle that he experienced when coming to the Cubs? He might just be the best closer the Cubs have after Morrow.
Wilson saved 13 of 16 opportunities last season. It’s likely how the Cubs saw him being utilized after the trade. But his inability to locate pitches became apparent. Oddly enough, his success against right-handed hitters was better than against lefties. But his SO/W ratio was just 1.53 in low-leverage situations with a .212 average. Bump it up to medium, and it went up to a 2.43 with a .160 average. Still, not too bad.
It’s in high-leverage though, is where you’d be surprised. In 36 games, Wilson allowed a 3.78 SO/W ratio with a .184 average. Just looking at these numbers, you could surmise that when the game is on the line, he dials in. But when you put that together with his struggles last season with the Cubs, he never got that chance. The thought is that if you can’t do it when it doesn’t matter, why should you get the chance when it does? Well, he’s the exception to the rule.
I know many of you won’t want to hear this. Or to believe it, but Wilson would be the “best bet” for the closer role. He’s had two lackluster seasons as a pro, and both could be equated to the number of walks he allowed. I’m sure many of you will come for me on this one. But as the figures show, he’s the right guy for the job.
But in the end, we hope not to have to make a decision like this. Teams don’t often have two closers on staff. And if they do, it’s about luck and not strategy. Closers don’t come cheap, as I point to Greg Holland’s status and what his price tag would be. Fans may want him, but it isn’t fiscally responsible. In the end, it’s nothing more than a fallback plan.