2. Brandon Hughes
Hughes has had an interesting journey. He was an outfielder until 2019 when he was converted into a lefty specialist with a sweeping slider. He was relatively unknown until he made his big league debut at Wrigley Field last May in the same game where Christopher Morel homered in his first Major League at-bat. Hughes came out of the bullpen to strike out all five batters he faced that night, which wound up being a sign of things to come as he became one of David Ross's most reliable relievers last season.
In 57 appearances, the 27-year-old southpaw struck out 68 men to the tune of a 3.12 ERA. He even saw enough success to start getting the call late in games, as he collected 8 holds and 8 saves in 12 opportunities. The only reason he probably won't be the named closer to start the season is the fact he is the only left-handed relief pitcher currently on the Cubs' 40-man roster. When Kyle Hendricks returns from his shoulder injury, perhaps Drew Smyly will slide into the bullpen in a long lefty relief role. But Smyly is looking like a back-of-the-rotation option right now.
It would be nice if the Cubs could sign another lefty like Matt Moore or Andrew Chafin to back up Hughes. As things stand, Hughes could end up closing out a few ball games if the injury bug hits the bullpen.