Best: Rod Beck
Known to many as “Shooter”, Rod Beck remains to this day as one of the most popular Cubs relievers the team has ever had. After spending seven years in San Francisco, where he was a three-time All Star and racked up 199 saves, he signed with the Cubs prior to 1998. Beck was a massive part of that magical run to the postseason as he recorded a career-high 51 saves and pitched to a 3.02 ERA, 3.72 FIP, 1.3 WHIP, 81 strikeouts and 20 walks in 81 games. Those 81 appearances was the most by any National League reliever.
Beck recorded save #51 in game 163 at Wrigley Field when the Cubs defeated his former team, the Giants, in the tiebreaker for the Wild Card. While Beck struggled mightily in 1999 and was traded to Boston mid-season, 1998 will never be forgotten.
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HONORABLE MENTION: Randy Myers
We do have to mention one of the more underrated relievers the Cubs have had. Myers could easily be argued over Beck, and honestly based on numbers…probably should be. He signed as a free agent in 1993 and that year recorded a Cubs record 53 saves, which was first in the majors. Myers was an All-Star for the Cubs in 1994 and 1995 and finished his Cubs tenure with 112 saves, a 3.52 ERA and 177 strikeouts in 168 games. Beck gets the slight nod over him simply for the fact he was such a big part of the Cubs making only their third postseason since 1945 in 1998.
Worst: Jose Veras
Prior to the 2014 season the Cubs brought in veteran Jose Veras to be a backend bullpen piece. Veras had an overall solid career bouncing around teams, and had a stretch from 2010 – 2013 where he pitched to a 3.55 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 272 strikeouts and 1.3 WHIP in 266 appearances. He was coming off a career-best 3.02 ERA in 2013 with the Astros and Tigers. The Cubs gave him a one-year, $3.85 million deal with a club option in 2015.
His time in Chicago was brief and horrendous. In 12 appearances he blew two saves, pitched to an 8.10 ERA, 6.28 FIP and 1.7 WHIP. He was DFA’d in favor of Hector Rondon and was released in June. A few days after being released the Astros picked him up and he pitched to a 3.03 ERA and 1.3 WHIP in 34 games the rest of 2014.
Hopefully there will be more impactful free agents for the Cubs in the near future. This list certainly will spark some debate and stat-searching. There are probably guys that have been overlooked.