The Cubs' closer is already on the roster - and it's not Adbert Alzolay

Adbert Alzolay's days as the Cubs' closer could be over after this addition to the team

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

Adbert Alzolay served as a reliable closer for the Chicago Cubs last season, but there may be a better 9th-inning candidate on the roster for 2024.

One of the main additions to the team this offseason was former Houston Astro and Philadelphia Phillie Hector Neris. Neris was arguably the best set-up man in MLB last season after amassing 31 holds, which was tied for the league lead. A 1.71 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 68.1 innings made Neris an elite reliever and worthy of the $9 million investment from Chicago's front office.

However, the Cubs may not utilize Neris in the eighth inning as the Astros did. Although his fastball velocity averages around 93 mph, Neris still draws a lot of swing-and-miss while keeping his hard-hit percentage down. This combination could bode well in the 9th inning if Neris earns the trust of manager Craig Counsell. This would not be a wrong move, considering this will be Neris' 10th entire season in MLB, and he has more closing experience than Alzolay. The 34-year-old has 89 total saves and an impressive career ERA of 3.24.

The Chicago Cubs' 2024 closer may not be who fans are expecting.

Counsell has yet to announce who the closer will be but Neris is undoubtedly a candidate. He has the experience and prowess to handle the position and boasts postseason experience from Houston's World Series run in 2022. He was having Alzolay as a set-up man with Neris as the closer would be an elite one-two punch for the end of close ballgames.

The other thing holding back Alzolay is injury concerns. 2023 was the first time where Alzolay made it through the whole season without spending a significant amount of time on the injured list. Even if he stays healthy, Alzolay's presence gives Counsell two really good options for the backend of the bullpen to supplement a reliever corps that also consists of Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr., and newcomer Yency Almonte.

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