Ranking the best Chicago Cubs closers of the last 25 years

Rod Beck / Chicago Cubs (Matthew Stockman /Allsport)
Rod Beck / Chicago Cubs (Matthew Stockman /Allsport) /
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Chicago Cubs
Hector Rondo n / Chicago Cubs (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Rondon was one of the team’s unsung heroes

As great as Aroldis Chapman was down the stretch for the 2016 Cubs, people tend to forget about the man he replaced as closer, Hector Rondon. The right-hander was one of the most reliable arms in manager Joe Maddon‘s bullpen arsenal over a three-year stretch, from 2014 to 2016.

During that span, the Venezuelan native made 190 appearances, finishing 126 contests for the North Siders. In his Cubs career, he notched 77 saves – which ranks sixth in franchise history. Across 184 1/3 frames, Rondon turned in a 2.44 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 1.014 WHIP and 5.00 SO/W mark.

Albeit somewhat brief, the right-hander had a brilliant run as the team’s closer. He broke out in 2014, with 29 saves to compliment his 2.26 FIP in 64 appearances, following it up with a 72-appearance, 30-save showing in 2015. Of course, we’ll never forget Rondon slamming the door in the clincher of the NLDS that year, sending the rival St. Louis Cardinals home early in the postseason and loudly announcing the Cubs’ arrival on the national stage.

Rondon continued to perform in the first half of 2016, dazzling with a 1.72 ERA and 0.670 WHIP in 32 appearances. His strikeout-to-walk numbers were out-of-this-world, at 10.50 SO/W. Still, Epstein went out, added Chapman, relegating Rondon to a late-inning role, rather than the ninth-inning job down the stretch. He was never quite the same guy again after that.