Chicago Cubs: Should Steve Cishek be closing games?

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Steve Cishek
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Steve Cishek /

Going into the offseason, the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen had a walk problem. Like always, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer set out to fix the issue.

Steve Cishek was one of the guys the Chicago Cubs brought in this winter, on a two-year deal worth about $13 million. The Cubs also signed Brandon Morrow to a two-year deal worth $21 million. Morrow was named the team’s closer. Cishek has had success closing games at the major league level.

Cishek has 121 saves over his major league career with the Marlins and Mariners. Most of those saves came with the Marlins where he was borderline dominant on some nights. Cishek also has a fresher arm, as Morrow is still recovering from pitching in all seven games of the World Series.

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Is Morrow the right guy?

Morrow has minimal closing experience, with just 18 saves over the course of his career. Of his 300 appearances, 113 of them are starts.

Last season with the Dodgers, in just 45 appearances, Morrow posted a 2.06 ERA, giving up only 31 hits in 43 2/3 innings, striking out 50, with two saves.

The Cubs are confident in Morrow being able to close games, which could give Morrow some confidence.

The logical thing to do is give the closing to a guy with proven success. Cishek has a career 2.70 ERA, with 121 saves, and only 25 blown saves, and a .216 opponent batting average over his career.

The numbers are there. He has three seasons of 25 saves or more and has never had an ERA higher than 3.50. Cishek is the model of consistency.

It may be unfair this early in the season, considering Morrow has thrown a total of two pitches so far in seven games. Cishek has already appeared in four of the seven games, so it’s no surprise to see Cishek be more effective. One more number that jumps off the page for Morrow is his 1.55 FIP (!) last season with the Dodgers. He rarely gave up any legit hard contact.

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There really is no wrong answer to who should be the Cubs’ closer. The closer role the next two seasons will be interesting, as an argument can be made for both guys.