Ranking the 4 biggest Chicago Cubs spring training questions
4 biggest Chicago Cubs spring training questions: #2 - Who will be the closer?
After the Cubs added Michael Fulmer to the mix this week, I started to think about who might be the best option for closer this coming season. My most obvious guess is that with Brad Boxberger having the most experience, it will be his job to lose. However, could it be a role given to whoever earns it the most this spring?
For Boxberger, he has recorded 41 and 32 saves in 2015 and 2018, respectively. He also posted a 3.71 and 4.39 ERA in those seasons. His ERA throughout his career in the ninth inning could be more impressive at just 3.77, which doesn't sound like you should hit the lock button on, given how vital the role of closing out games is.
Fulmer recorded 14 saves with a 2.91 ERA in 2021 for the Detroit Tigers, but he's where my concern comes in. Fulmer was elite in Detroit, and by in Detroit, I mean just in Detroit specifically. Let's look at 2022's numbers: he recorded a solid 3.39 ERA (3.57 FIP). However, digging deeper is where my skepticism begins to arise. Comerica Park is not exceptionally keen on favoring hitters in the slightest.
Fulmer recorded an ERA of 1.93 (32.2 IP) at home while recording a mark of 4.94 away from Detroit (31.0 IP). After being traded to Minnesota, he posted a 4.55 ERA in the second half. I'm optimistic the Cubs can continue building their reputation on finding success with veterans who have shown potential but have another level to unlock on the mound. Still, I need to see it with my own eyes at Wrigley Field before giving him the keys to the castle in the ninth inning.
The Cubs could, of course, platoon the ninth inning with a southpaw in Brandon Hughes or one of their back-end righties based on the matchups. Nevertheless, I'm not sure there's exactly one guy to lock down the role at this juncture, and it will be interesting to see who makes a case for themself come spring - or if it'll even matter. For all we know, Ross will go closer by committee given the options at his disposal.