The Chicago Cubs Rowan Wick deserves the closer role, at least temporarily while Craig Kimbrel is on the IL.
The Chicago Cubs may prefer to go ‘closer by committee.’ But they need to rethink that. Rowan Wick deserves to close out games, even if it’s temporary while Craig Kimbrel is on the IL with elbow inflammation. You don’t know what you have until you put a pitcher on with a one-run lead in the ninth inning. It’s time to see what Wick is made of.
Wick has pitched in more games than Kimbrel by four. But that’s where the similarities end. The more dominate pitcher has been Wick, hands down. Clearly, Kimbrel has had a more successful career. And Kimbrel didn’t start throwing until mid-June. But speaking of this year, it’s been Wick’s year.
Wick is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA with a 0.3 WAR. He’s pitched 26 innings striking out 28 to go along with a 1.115 WHIP. Compared to Kimbrel, it’s no comparison. Kimbrel has an 0-2 record with a -0.2 WAR with a 5.68 ERA. He’s got 13 saves compared to Wick’s two, but he gets the bulk of the closing opportunities. He has 26 strikeouts in 19 innings but a WHIP of 1.526.
There might not be any save opportunities between now and when Kimbrel comes off the IL. But Wick as earned the right if there’s any. Wick has pitched at an aLI (average leverage index) of 1.09 for the year. But in the last month or so, he’s averaging 1.34. Kimbrel since August is at 1.47. Pretty close. So I would go with Wick to close out games until Kimbrel’s return.
I don’t judge Kimbrel at all as he’s had less time to get ready. His velocity dipped at the end of last season, but it appears he’s creeping back to it. He’s reached 98 miles per hour on the gun, 93 or 94 when he’s not right. He’s primarily working through his spring training and getting into ‘game shape.’ Remember, these injuries would have been in the early season. Not down the stretch run, but what can you do.
Wick deserves the opportunity to close games, and Joe Maddon should oblige. Yesterday, Wick was put in with an aLI of 3.30–the highest of his career. He pitched out of it, not allowing a single run.
So let him close, at least until Kimbrel’s return. What other choice do you have? We’ve tried every ‘closer’ past or present. Give him a chance.