The Cubs are rolling the dice with Hector Neris' highwire act in the ninth

The veteran reliever has gotten the job done, but not without his fair share of shakiness in the ninth inning.
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets
Chicago Cubs v New York Mets / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Hector Neris, the biggest bullpen addition for the Chicago Cubs this winter, is now a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities this season since taking over the ninth-inning duties. But it's safe to say nobody is breathing easily whenever a save situation arises and it feels like it's only a matter of time before the team lets another one slip away.

Wednesday night's dramatic win over the Mets in Queens was just the latest example of the tightrope act that is a typical Neris appearance. A hit by pitch and hard-hit double off the bat of JD Martinez had the Cubs' backs against the wall and it took a near-perfect play and a lucky break via an official review for Chicago to hold on for a win.

Neris has yet to record a clean ninth inning for a save, walked a pair in two of the five appearances, allowed a homer in one and hit a batter in another. A 1.727 WHIP paints a pretty unflattering picture for the veteran (1.272 is league average this year) and he's been anything but shutdown over the first month of the season, walking batters at a shockingly high rate (9.0 BB/9).

Brought in on a one-year, $8 million deal last offseason, Neris is supposed to be the stabilizing veteran for this bullpen and, while he's technically gotten the job done as the interim closer, the Cubs need to take a long, hard look at other options for the ninth - at least until Neris or Adbert Alzolay can iron out their respective issues.

Cubs are piecing it together when it comes to the bullpen right now

Alzolay, who was removed from the closer's role after blowing four saves in the first few weeks of the season, was expected to be 'the' guy for new Cubs skipper Craig Counsell. Coming off a breakout campaign in the role and a clean spring, there was no reason to expect otherwise. But the right-hander has been completely unable to keep the ball in the yard and carried a 7.87 FIP into Thursday's finale at Citi Field.

Hopefully once the rotation reaches full strength, Counsell can have some more depth in that pen. Without Julian Merryweather, a key piece last year, for the foreseeable future, it's been a mix-and-match game to this point. That's worked so far, but the Cubs are playing with fire in the ninth.