Chicago Cubs better hope this veteran has only been unlucky during Spring Training

Not an ideal Spring Training for the experienced reliever.

2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training
2024 Chicago Cubs Spring Training / Matt Dirksen/GettyImages

Despite connections between Craig Counsell and Josh Hader, the Chicago Cubs avoided the All-Star closer in free agency this off-season.

Addressing the bullpen was a priority for the Cubs this off-season and the two main additions were Yency Almonte, acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and, the signing of veteran relief pitcher Hector Neris to a one-year deal.

Almonte has looked terrific in Spring Training as he hasn't allowed a run in five appearances. In acquiring Almonte, the hope for the Cubs was that he would return to his 2022 success, a season where he posted a 1.02 ERA in 33 appearances.

There wasn't much hope needed in the signing of Neris. Neris has been one of the most reliable late-inning relievers in each of the past three seasons. The plan is for Neris to serve in a similar role that Hader had with the Brewers when Counsell was Milwaukee's manager.

Counsell has yet to officially name the closer for the Cubs in 2024 and Neris was expected to receive some consideration but Spring Training performance may lead to Adbert Alzolay returning to the role for a second consecutive season.

Hector Neris' first Spring Training with the Chicago Cubs has not been great.

Neris has struggled this Spring with the Cubs. Early videos from batting practice in February displayed Neris getting touched up often by the team's position player prospects and that has followed suit with his Cactus League appearances. In 7 appearances this Spring, Neris has allowed 7 runs on 11 hits. Of those 11 hits, 4 have been home runs.

The dip in velocity that Neris saw during the 2023 season led to him being more hittable out of the Astros' bullpen. The hope for the Cubs is that Neris is experimenting with different things during his Cactus League appearances, otherwise, the main addition to the bullpen may be a bust.

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