Saves and save opportunities have been hard to come by for the Cubs.
Entering Friday's 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cubs ranked last in the major leagues with only 6 save opportunities. They had only 1 save opportunity in their previous 16 games.
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That changed Friday as Hector Rondon closed out the Cards to earn his second save in 2 chances this year. Rondon was a Rule 5 draft pick from Cleveland in December 2012, and he's been respectable from the get-go. Now he's closing out games.
"I feel amazing right now," the 26-year-old Rondon said.
The bullpen overall has performed well lately, even in a state of flux. The bad part is that closer Jose Veras lost his job because of wildness and ineffectiveness early in the season and eventually wound up on the disabled list. He's now at Class AA Tennessee, where he soon will begin a minor-league rehab stint.
The good part for the Cubs is they have some hard throwers and possible closers in Rondon, Pedro Strop and Neil Ramirez.
"I hope we do," said general manager Jed Hoyer. "As we've seen, it can be hard to sign a guy and bring him into a situation that he's not familiar with. I think, ideally, we would certainly develop a closer from one of these guys that we have on our roster. I think we have some guys that certainly have the stuff and the makeup to do it."
As for Veras, he's the second veteran closer the Cubs have signed in the last two years. Kyuji Fujikawa came for two years and $9.5 million before 2013 and is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Cubs signed Veras for one year and about $4 million this past off-season.
"That's been a frustrating one and kind of shows you the perils of free agency a little bit," Hoyer said. "I think he walked 13 guys as the closer in 40-some innings with the Astros last year. He had no walks last year in the postseason for the Tigers. He comes here and doesn't throw strikes. I hoping it was physical, maybe a little bit mechanical and that he can get back on track."
Letting Garza be Garza:
Jed Hoyer chose not to get into a war of words with former Cubs pitcher Matt Garza. The Cubs traded Garza to Texas in July, and in the off-season, Garza signed with the Brewers.
After beating the Cubs last weekend in Milwaukee, Garza said he's happy to be with a team that has a chance to win instead of one that only hopes to win.
"I feel like Garza got his payday," Hoyer said. "He's on a team that's winning. I guess he feels he's in a position right now to make comments. I think it's on us now to flip that script and to show that we're a place that people want to be, show that we're a winning organization. It doesn't really bother me. I think being traded is a hard thing emotionally for people. Even in a situation like that, where we had a good relationship with him, I think there's probably a feeling of rejection, for lack of a better word."
Center fielder Ryan Sweeney injured his right hamstring making a running catch in the eighth inning. He went for an MRI.
Expect multiple roster moves Saturday as pitcher Jake Arrieta comes off the disabled list to start. If Sweeney goes on the DL, the Cubs will have to bring up an outfielder from the minor leagues.