After the Craig Kimbrel trade, the Chicago Cubs used the second half of last year as a development period with no set go-to guy in the ninth inning. This year figures to be different, however, with the front office making multiple free agent signings of players with previous late-inning experience.
Pair the Cubs free agent haul with the club’s crop of developing young arms, and there’s reason to believe the Cubs bullpen could be a decent surprise this season, but one question remains, who will be David Ross’ go-to guy in the ninth inning?
Cubs: The battle-tested favorites include a pair of new faces
As it stands, the Cubs have two relievers with a good amount of closing experience in David Robertson and Mychal Givens. Both could see time in the role and are a good place to start if you’re Ross early in the season.
Givens was once a popular trade target and a longtime late-inning reliever with the Orioles, always posting good strikeout and walk numbers in Baltimore. He briefly held the closer role in Baltimore before being traded to Colorado where his numbers dipped significantly. He’s coming off a topsy-turvy 2021, but with a career SO/9 of 10.6 and SO/W ratio of 2.91 to go along with 29 career saves, he has one of the best cases to slide into the closer role.
The man who would certainly be the betting favorite right now is Robertson. With 137 career saves and a 78.7 percent career save rate, no one in the Cubs bullpen is more accustomed to the role. The only thing that keeps Robertson from being a slam dunk is the fact that he hasn’t been primarily a closer since 2017 – nor has he handled a full season’s work load in several years.
Robertson pitched in just 19 games in the last three seasons, but his numbers with the Rays last season certainly indicate that he has something left in the tank. With a career SO/9 of 11.9, HR/9 of 0.8, and BB/9 of 3.6 along with his previous closing experience, Robertson could be a safe bet for the job.