Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer 1st in line 2nd in line 2015 Closer Updated
CHC Hector Rondon Pedro Strop James Russell Hector Rondon 7/31/14
(DL) Kyuji Fujikawa Neil Ramirez

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Previous updates:

July 31, 2014
Chicago Cubs – After an inquiry from the Players Association about their unusual demotion of Neil Ramirez, the Cubs elected to place him on the disabled list with a sore right arm. Meanwhile, Kyuji Fujikawa made a scoreless appearance for Iowa, perhaps his final rehab outing before returning to the big club.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Russell.

July 27, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Neil Ramirez has been sent down to Triple-A to get some rest.  Ramirez has been one of the Cubs’ best relievers this year but since he is a rookie, they want to make sure they do not overuse him.  He should be back up shortly and resume his set-up role, but for now the Cubs will have to use Pedro Strop and Brian Schlitter in front of closer Hector Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Schlitter.

July 16, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are bad, again, but any further trades are unlikely to affect the top arms in their bullpen hierarchy. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

July 12, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon blew his third save of the season last night, as he couldn’t protect a one run lead.  Rondon has not been terrible lately, but he has given up a run in three of his last six appearances.  Neil Ramirez, on the other hand, has made seven straight scoreless appearances and has an ERA barely over 1.00.  If Rondon blows a couple more saves, the Cubs will have to give Ramirez a look.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.
Hector Rondon to Hot Seat

July 9, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon was the hard-luck loser in the second Cubs loss on Tuesday, victim of a misplayed pop fly and a broken-bat slice down the line. In other Cubs news, Kyuji Fujikawa and his $4 million salary made his first rehab appearance on Sunday, striking out one in a clean inning for the rookie-league Cubs of Mesa, Arizona. He has a shot at late-inning relevance later this season.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 24, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon took the loss after the Reds scored five in the ninth – all with two outs – to earn a 6-1 win. One bad outing shouldn’t immediately threaten Rondon’s job security, but it doesn’t help, either.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 17, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon returned on Monday night against the Marlins and needed 26 pitches to strike out the side in the bottom of the ninth inning, keeping the game tied. The Cubs took the lead in the top half of the 13th before James Russell breezed through the final three outs to record his first save of the season and just the third of his career.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 16, 2014
Chicago Cubs – With Hector Rondon still apparently unavailable, Neil Ramirez picked up his third save of the year on Sunday.  Rondon is due to return in short order.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 15, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon threw an 11 pitch bullpen session yesterday and said he felt good after it.  Rondon could be available to pitch as early as today.  Given Rondon’s injury history this is still something to monitor, but for now it looks like Rondon will be fine and resume closing out games for the Cubs.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 14, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Neil Ramirez got the call in the 9th inning last night to protect a two run lead.  He allowed one run on two hits and a walk but was able to pick up his 2nd save of the season.  Regular closer Hector Rondon was unavailable due to a sore elbow.  Rondon will throw a bullpen session on Saturday to test out the elbow.  He has a history of elbow issues, and if he will miss an extended period of time, Ramirez looks like the guy.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 11, 2014
Chicago Cubs – $4 million mistake Jose Veras was released today. Cubs fans, he can’t hurt you now. The bad man is gone.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 8, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop recorded the save for the Cubs yesterday.  Hector Rondon threw 32 pitches on Friday and Neil Ramirez had worked in back-to-back days so both were likely unavailable.  Strop has thrown four scoreless innings since returning from his groin injury and could work his way back into the save conversation if he continues to pitch well.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 7, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon was back in action yesterday, after getting the day off Thursday.  Unfortunately for Cubs fans and Rondon’s fantasy owners, he blew the save, giving up 3 runs in the 9th inning.  Neil Ramirez struck out the only two batters he faced in the 8th inning.  We don’t think Rondon is in danger of losing his job just yet, but if has a few more outings like last night, the Cubs might have to give Ramirez a shot.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 6, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon got a night off after pitching the previous two games, so Neil Ramirez picked up the save in his place. For a last place team, the Cubs sure do have a great tandem at the back end of their bullpen, as Ramirez (0.68 ERA, 21 Ks in 13.1 innings) and Rondon (1.46 ERA, 27 Ks in 24.2 innings) have been nearly unhittable.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

June 5, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop, in his second appearance back from the disabled list, shut down the Mets with a one-run lead in the eighth.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Ramirez | Strop.

May 23, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Villanueva threw the final three innings in the Cubs victory to earn his first save of the season. He does not factor in to Chicago’s usual late-inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Ramirez | Schlitter.

May 22, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The euphonious Brian Schlitter pitched a scoreless eighth before Hector Rondon blew his first save of the year and Jose Veras lost a game of dodgeball with John Ryan Murphy. Schlitter happens to be getting what passes for high-leverage work in the Cubs bullpen lately.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Ramirez | Schlitter.

May 18, 2014
Chicago Cubs - Neil Ramirez pitched a perfect 8th inning yesterday ahead of closer Hector Rondon, who also pitched a perfect 9th for his 4th save in 4 chances.  Ramirez struck out two more batters, bringing his total to 15 in just 9.1 innings, and should continue to see time in the 8th inning setting up Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Ramirez | Grimm.

May 16, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs were trying to stay close to the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon, and sent Neil Ramirez to the mound in the 8th inning down by 2 runs. Ramirez responded by doing the same thing he’s done since being called up in late April — overwhelm hitters with 96 mph fastballs and hard sliders — and with the scoreless inning, the righty lowered his ERA to 1.08. Through 8.1 innings so far, Ramirez now has 13 strikeouts against just 2 walks, and seems poised to start collecting a few late-inning holds if the Cubs can ever manage to get a lead. (In less relevant Cubs news on Thursday, Jose Veras returned from the DL. Yippee.)

Hierarchy change: Rondon | Grimm | Ramirez.

May 8, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Lunging didn’t agree with Pedro Strop’s groin, and now the righthander will hit the disabled list for as long as a month. Lefthander James Russell and former handlebar mustache aficionado Carlos Villanueva could stand to benefit; note also that Jose Veras, rehabbing from an oblique injury and a morbidly obese ERA, pitched a perfect inning on Tuesday in double-A.

Hierarchy change: Rondon | Grimm | Russell.

May 5, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Regular readers know that we at Closer Monkey adore Hector Rondon, and we were dismayed earlier this week when Rick Renteria described his 9th inning plans as “fluid.”  (He also called his plans “organic” which was just confusing.)  Despite Renteria’s odd vocabulary and refusal to verbally commit to Rondon as his guy, the skipper has used the young righty exactly how you’d deploy a closer.  Unfortunately, last night, Rondon came on in a tie game in the top of the 9th and surrendered the lead.  It was only the second time Rondon has allowed a run this year, but given Renteria’s love of no-pesticide produce (???), we’re worried that he might go into committee mode and start giving Pedro Strop more chances.  No hierarchy change.

May 1, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs had a save situation all lined up for our man Hector, but then double agent Sean Marshall boosted them into a five-run lead. Rondon was warming for the ninth, and although Renteria refuses to make a commitment, it appears that Hector has a corner on the closer market. No hierarchy change.

April 27, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon struck out all three hitters he faced in a perfect ninth inning on Sunday afternoon, featuring mostly an array of 98 mph fastballs.  It wasn’t a save since the Cubs were up 4-0, but Pedro Strop had already been used in the 8th, so this looks like a changing of the guard in Chicago.  We’ll try not to say “I told you so” too loud.  Hierarchy change: Hector Rondon to Closer, Pedro Strop to Set-up.

April 24, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Hey, can it be Hector Rondon time yet? The rest of the Cubs bullpen combined for a brutal blown save on Wednesday, with Pedro Strop’s control problems (7 BB in 8.1 IP) the catalyst. We’ve been telling you for two weeks that Rondon’s our guy; for the sake of Jeff Samardzija’s mental health, we hope Rick Renteria agrees soon. No hierarchy change.

April 19, 2014
Chicago Cubs – It wasn’t a save chance, but the Cubs hierarchy was made very clear today, when Hector Rondon pitched the 7th and 8th innings in a 4-run game, while Pedro Strop got the 9th.  Despite giving up his first run of the year today, Rondon’s ERA is more than 3 full points better than Strop’s, but it seems that Strop will be the one given first crack at saves after the demotion of Jose Veras.  Hierarchy change: Pedro Strop to Closer, Hector Rondon to Set-up.

April 17, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs were swept by the Yankees in a Wednesday doubleheader, and both Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon entered with Chicago trailing – Rondon in the sixth. The Cubs are behind a lot, and somebody has to pitch, but this might point to Pedro Strop as the most likely recipient of the next (rare) save opportunity. No hierarchy change.

April 12, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Rick Renteria just announced that Jose Veras will be moved from the closer role, and Cubs save situations going forward will be matchup-dependent. As we mentioned earlier today, Hector Rondon has been pitching great and would be our pick to close — but unfortunately for him, he’s pitched the last three days (and four of the last five), and is almost certainly unavailable today. If there’s a save situation today that goes to Pedro Strop, Strop just might get the opportunity to make the job his own. We’ll be watching closely. Hierarchy change: Hector Rondon to Closer, Pedro Strop to Set-Up, Justin Grimm to 2nd in line.

April 12, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Jose Veras blew another save last night and his ERA is over 12 so far this season. The ERA will obviously come down but he also has 7 walks in 3.2 innings. Manager Rick Renteria said that Veras is still their closer. Hector Rondon ended up getting the save as he pitched a scoreless 11th inning. Pedro Strop pitched the 8th ahead of Veras, but Rondon has now made 15 straight scoreless appearances dating back to last season and could be given a chance to close if Veras continues to struggle.  Hierarchy change: Hector Rondon to Set-up, Pedro Strop to 2nd in line.

April 7, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Rick Renteria might be saying he’s not worried about Jose Veras, but we’re just not sure that we believe him.  Yesterday, Veras was summoned in a non-save situation and could only get two outs before being bailed out by Pedro Strop.  So far on the year, the Cubs’ closer has allowed 3 ERs in 1.2 innings while walking 6 and hitting a batter.  Veras appears to have some time to turn this around, but a few more bad outings and the Cubs may have to look to Strop, who has yet to allow a run in 3.1 innings so far.  Jose Veras to Hot Seat.

April 4, 2014
Chicago Cubs – As predicted in Thursday’s Vulture Save Watch, with Jose Veras unavailable, Pedro Strop picked up today’s save. Veras had thrown 38 pitches after warming up five different timesNo hierarchy change.

March 13, 2014
Chicago Cubs – If last year’s improvement in walk rate wasn’t permanent, Cubs fans will swear that Jose Veras is a taller Marmol. Ranked #28 in our preseason closer rankings.

March 9, 2014
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs signed Jose Veras to a one year deal and he should start the season as their closer.  The Cubs used Pedro Strop as their primary set-up man after they traded for him towards the end of last year and he should resume that role again to start 2014.  Hector Rondon was mentioned as a potential closer, along with Strop, prior to the Cubs signing Veras. Arodys Vizcaino might be a guy to keep an eye on as he is a youngster with electric stuff.  Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer – Jose Veras, Set-up – Pedro Strop, 2nd in line – Hector Rondon.

September 22, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning while picking up his first save of the season.  The Cubs want to see what they have with Strop so he should continue to see the save opportunities for the rest of the season.  No hierarchy change.

September 19, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Although the Kevin Gregg era was astonishingly successful in Chicago, the Cubs are looking ahead to next season and have announced that Pedro Strop will close over the last 10 games. Hierarchy change: Pedro Strop to Closer, Kevin Gregg to Set-Up.

July 31, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Kevin Gregg’s final showcase appearance before the trade deadline ended in disaster; he loaded the bases and gave up a two-run single to blow what could be his final save opportunity as a Cub. Frog, meet scorpion. No hierarchy change.

July 22, 2013
Chicago Cubs – For a “good time on the mound,” Dale Sveum plans to call on Pedro Strop to be the Cubs’ new closer if Kevin Gregg heads elsewhere this month, as expected. Hierarchy change: Pedro Strop to Set-up, Blake Parker to 2nd in line.

July 18, 2013
Chicago Cubs – 35-year-old Kevin Gregg is one of the hottest arms available at the deadline, just as everyone predicted in April. If Gregg leaves Chicago, Blake Parker stands ready to take advantage of the opportunity to close. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: BUY+ Blake Parker.

July 15, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop got out of a tight situation in the 6th inning last night, and was briefly in line for the win until Matt Guerrier blew the save the following inning.  Strop, so dominant for the Orioles in the first half last year, is trying to regain his form in Chicago, and the early returns are good: He’s now pitched 6 scoreless innings for the Cubs, allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7.  Kevin Gregg did the Cubs no favors by imploding in the 9th last night, but if he’s dealt, Strop has an outside chance to inherit the 9th inning.  Hierarchy change: Pedro Strop to 2nd in line, replacing Matt Guerrier.

July 7, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Recently acquired Matt Guerrier pitched two perfect innings last night ahead of Kevin Gregg to pick up his first hold since being traded to the Cubs. Hierarchy change: Matt Guerrier to 2nd in line, replacing James Russell.

July 3, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Following the trade of Scott Feldman, the Cubs announced that Carlos Villanueva would be headed back to the rotation.  As Kevin Gregg draws interest from other teams, that makes Blake Parker an intriguing sleeper option for saves, come trade deadline time.  He might be worth rostering in deeper leagues.  Hierarchy change: Blake Parker to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

June 30, 2013
Chicago Cubs - Blake Parker earned his first career save on Saturday night.  Kevin Gregg had already blown a one run lead in the 9th and Carlos Villanueva pitched the 10th inning in a tie game.  Parker has pitched well since getting called up and could be an option to close when Gregg is unavailable.  Hierarchy change: Blake Parker to 2nd in line, replacing James Russell.

June 28, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Blake Parker wasn’t given much rope on Thursday, as he was yanked a game the Cubs were leading by 5 after giving up a solo HR.  He’d only retired one batter.  Parker was impressive in AAA, but early indications are that Carlos Villanueva might be the man who the Cubs trust in 8th inning hold situations.  He got the call in a one-run game on Wednesday.  Hierarchy change: Carlos Villanueva to Set-up, replacing Blake Parker.

June 26, 2013
Chicago Cubs – 23 revelers were arrested Tuesday in Wrigleyville; we assume their riotous celebration was inspired by early word of Carlos Marmol’s demotion. With James Russell still the only lefty in the Cubs pen and Dale Sveum loath to use him in the ninth, we’re ready to predict that Blake Parker — with seven saves at AAA Iowa and great numbers in eight June appearances with the big club — takes on a larger role. Hierarchy change: Blake Parker to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

June 17, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Kevin Gregg had the night off yesterday, so Carlos Marmol got the call in the 9th inning in a 3-run game against the Mets on Sunday.  Five batters later, the Mets had walked off, and Dale Sveum was saying things like “We’ve come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs,” while Marmol destroyed the clubhouse.  I don’t even know what joke to make about Sveum’s hilarious admission, which the rest of humanity realized in 2011, but the Cubs don’t appear close to cutting Marmol altogether.  Maybe, just maybe, this means that James Russell will finally get a shot in the 9th the next time Gregg is unavailable.  Hierarchy change: James Russell to Set-up, Carlos Marmol to 2nd in line.

May 30, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Reports emerged yesterday that Kyuji Fujikawa will undergo Tommy John surgery.  He can safely be dropped in any non-keeper league.  No hierarchy change.

May 28, 2013
Chicago Cubs - Kyuji Fujikawa was indeed placed on the 15-day disabled list with an injured right forearm. No hierarchy change.

May 27, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Kyuji Fujikawa left yesterday’s game with a right forearm strain.  It sounds similar to the injury he suffered earlier this season and he is likely to return to the DLHierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

May 22, 2013
Chicago Cubs – If Dale Sveum insists on using his best reliever, James Russell, in the sixth or seventh inning, and then trusting Carlos Marmol in the eighth, then yes, we will update the Cubs’ hierarchy accordingly. Just don’t expect us to be happy about it. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to 2nd in line, replacing James Russell.

May 11, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Kyuji Fujikawa returned from the DL last night and threw a scoreless inning.  He will take over as the primary 8th inning guy and could return to the closer’s role once Kevin Gregg remembers that he is Kevin Gregg.   Hierarchy change: Kyuji Fujikawa to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

May 8, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Though Chicago fans greeted him with anticipatory boos, Carlos Marmol regained some confidence by holding a one-run lead for 1 1/3 innings, setting up Kevin Gregg for his fifth save in five chances. Dale Sveum clearly intends to ride or die with his $9.8 million man. Kyuji Fujikawa will throw another rehab appearance on Wednesday, then join the Cubs this weekend, likely sliding back into the set-up role behind Gregg. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to 2nd in line, replacing Shawn Camp.

May 5, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol was summoned for the 8th inning with the Cubs up 2. He proceeded to walk 2 batters and hit another before being pulled without recording an out. All three runners ended up scoring and Marmol was charged with the loss. Dale Sveum may have finally lost all confidence in Marmol.  It’s hard to imagine the Cubs using Marmol in any meaningful situations moving forward.  Hierarchy change: James Russell to Set-up, Shawn Camp to 2nd in line.

April 27, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Another 9th inning opportunity for Kevin Gregg, and a perfect inning for his third save of the season.  As we’ve said, Kyuji Fujikawa should take back over when he returns, so much of this is elementary; however, hard as it is to believe, Kevin Gregg appears to be the reliever to own now in Chicago.  Hierarchy change: Kevin Gregg to Closer, Carlos Marmol to Set-up. 

April 27, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Shouldn’t-be closer Carlos Marmol was unavailable on Friday night, so this was finally a chance for James Russell to award his fantasy owners’ patience and potentially earn his first save of the season.  And then Dale Sveum decided to pitch him in the 7th inning, whereupon he threw two pitches, got one out, and was yanked.  Kevin Gregg, signed off the street a week ago after being cut from two teams in the past 8 months, was the guy who got the call in the 9th.  Sveum still isn’t committing to any one reliever in Kyuji Fujikawa’s absence, so if you’re a crazy person, maybe you want to pick up Kevin Gregg or something.  Hierarchy change: Kevin Gregg to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

April 24, 2013
Chicago Cubs - With a runner on second and lefty slugger Joey Votto at the plate with one out in a tight ninth inning, Dale Sveum inexplicably passed over James Russell and put his faith in Votto’s 15 at bats against . . . Carlos Marmol. “Those numbers don’t lie,” Sveum later explained, incorrectly. Marmol gave up a single, the Reds tied the game, and (as predicted, somehow) Kevin Gregg picked up the vulture save. When will the sample size of Sveum’s bullpen mismanagement grow too large to ignore? Carlos Marmol to Hot Seat.

April 23, 2013
Chicago Cubs – James Russell came on in the 7th and gave up a tying triple. He stayed on for a scoreless 8th, then was relieved by Carlos Marmol, who pitched a passable 9th and 10th, finishing with a strikeout of Joey Votto. The seas are turning blood red, frogs are falling from the sky, and Carlos Marmol is probably the Cubs’ closer again — for now. Beware. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to Closer, James Russell to Set-Up.

April 19, 2013
Chicago Cubs - James Russell is, overwhelmingly, the best reliever in the Cubs bullpen, but the young lefty, who hasn’t given up a run all season, still hasn’t appealed to Dale Sveum as a 9th inning reliever.  Last night, with the Cubs up four runs, it was Carlos Marmol who pitched the 9th, after Russell had mowed down three lefties in the 8th.  This all might be elementary at this point, since Kyuji Fujikawa will probably return to the role when he comes off the DL.  But for the next week or so, Marmol could be the preferred saves man in Chicago.  No hierarchy change.

April 16, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Another Shawn Camp meltdown tonight — this time in the 8th inning of a one-run game the Cubs were losing — means the weathered righthander is almost certainly finished as the Chicago closer.  James Russell still has a 0.00 ERA on the season, and is the fan favorite to inherit the role, but somewhat surprisingly, Carlos Marmol is also in the mix once again.  Two days after saying that Marmol wouldn’t be part of any 9th-inning platoon, Dale Sveum said Tuesday morning that Marmol was “working his way back into” the closer role.  Russell and Marmol are now the two men to watch for Chicago saves until Kyuji Fujikawa returns.  Hierarchy change: James Russell to Closer, Carlos Marmol to Set-up, Shawn Camp to 2nd in line. 

April 15, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Shawn Camp appeared headed toward his first save of the year, retiring the first two hitters he faced in the 9th on Sunday.  But Hunter Pence hit a solo home run to tie the game, and then Camp collapsed in the 10th, allowing three additional runs.  Kyuji Fujikawa isn’t expected to miss a ton of time, but if Camp continues to falter, it could mean that the 9th-inning triage platoon starts leaning more in James Russell’s direction.  Shawn Camp to Hot Seat.

April 14, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Kyuji Fujikawa has been placed on the disabled list with a muscle sprain in his right forearm.  The injury is not particularly serious and Fujikawa is expected back in a few weeks, but until then, Shawn Camp and James Russell will share 9th inning duties.  Carlos Marmol is not expected to be involved in the platoon.  Hierarchy change: Shawn Camp to Closer, James Russell to Set-up, Michael Bowden to 2nd in line, Kyuji Fujikawa to DL.

April 7, 2013
Chicago Cubs - It seems that Carlos Marmol is finally done as the Cubs closer after giving up two home runs in the ninth to lose to Atlanta. Although Dale Sveum pointed out that Kyuji Fujikawa also pitched poorly on Saturday night, and offered Shawn Camp and James Russell as potential alternatives, we believe the Cub most likely to land in the closer role is the longtime Japanese relief ace.  Hierarchy change: Kyuji Fujikawa to Closer, Shawn Camp to Set-Up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

April 5, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Dale Sveum stuck by Carlos Marmol after the embattled closer barely escaped a ninth inning that featured three singles wrapped around a walk. “He was OK. It didn’t seem that way, but it wasn’t too bad . . .  We know things can get interesting with him.” When Sveum tires of “interesting” approaches to protecting late leads, Kyuji Fujikawa and his 200+ saves await.  No hierarchy change.

April 2, 2013
Chicago Cubs – It took all of one game for reporters to start questioning Carlos Marmol’s role as the Cubs’ stopper.  After taking over in the 9th inning, Marmol allowed three baserunners while only retiring one hitter before he was yanked for James Russell.  Kyuji Fujikawa eventually got the one-out save.  After the game, Dale Sveum said that Marmol was still his closer, though the quick hook shows just how little confidence the Cubs’ skipper has in the erratic righty.  Fujikawa, a closer in Japan, is the best option to replace Marmol if the struggles continue.  Hierarchy change: Kyuji Fujikawa to Set-up, Shawn Camp to 2nd in line.  Carlos Marmol to Hot Seat.

February 24, 2013
Chicago Cubs – Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Carlos Marmol, Set-up- Shawn Camp, 2nd in line- Kyuji Fujikawa.

August 27, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Shawn Camp pitched the 8th inning with the Cubs up by 2 runs, and ended up earning the save when the game was rained out in the bottom of the 8th. Camp will continue to be the 8th inning man moving forward, as he was tonight. No hierarchy change.

July 12, 2012
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are selling anything and everything, but they may not have many takers for the top arms in their bullpen. Carlos Marmol has a big contract and is far too volatile to generate any interest. Meanwhile, Shawn Camp, James Russell and Rafael Dolis are unlikely to affect the 9th inning role if they do end up landing anywhere else. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: None.

July 3, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol was unavailable on Monday, but it was James Russell who got the call in the 9th inning, not Shawn Camp. This came as a bit of a surprise, since Camp had pitched as a set-up man in the 8th inning in the previous two games. But it worked out for the Cubs, as Camp again pitched the 8th and allowed only one hit in his inning of work, leaving a lefty-heavy 9th inning for Russell, who earned the save. Camp, who now has 9 straight scoreless outings, is still the most likely candidate for a save on nights when Marmol is unavailable. No hierarchy change.

June 27, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Shawn Camp pitched 1.1 innings on Tuesday, finishing the 7th and 8th innings ahead of Carlos Marmol. James Russell’s usage lately has been sporadic, as he’s often pitched in blowouts, or early in games, as he did yesterday. Hierarchy change: Shawn Camp to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in line.

June 16, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol on Friday got his first save since returning from the minors, and Dale Sveum said after the game that Marmol was his closer again. Marmol is immediately on the Hot Seat, as it’s easy to picture Sveum yanking him out of the role again if he blows his next couple opportunities (and his save on Friday was far from smooth). But he’ll see the majority of save chances going forward. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to Closer, James Russell to Set-up, Shawn Camp to 2nd in line.

June 13, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol pitched in a tie game in the 8th, eventually earning the win last night. After Marmol pitched, Shawn Camp earned his first save of the season, pitching a clean ninth inning. Camp has now gotten the last two save opportunities (he blew the first one), after James Russell got the first two chances following Rafael Dolis’s demotion. Russell remains firmly on the Hot Seat, and another save chance for Camp could signal a shift in the Cubs’ ugly closer-by-committee. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to 2nd in line, replacing Casey Coleman.

June 9, 2012
Chicago Cubs – While Dale Sveum declared that his 9th inning role a platoon, Friday was the first time since Rafael Dolis’s demotion that anyone other than James Russell was given a save opportunity for the Cubs. Shawn Camp came in to try and close the door on the Twins, but gave up the tying run in the 9th, and then the game-winning run in the 10th. While Camp struggled in his first effort in the role, Russell’s usage has been all over the place, as he’s been summoned before the 9th inning numerous times, including last night. James Russell to Hot Seat.

June 8, 2012
Chicago Cubs – With the Cubs leading yesterday, they used Shawn Camp in the 7th, and then James Russell for just one batter in the 8th. Manny Corpas followed, blowing the save but registering two scoreless innings, and Casey Coleman was called on in the 10th. While Russell has gotten all of the save opportunities since Rafael Dolis’s demotion, it’s silly season for the Cubs bullpen, and any one of these four could potentially nab a save on any night. No hierarchy change.

May 29, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Casey Coleman pitched a clean 9th inning for the Cubs on Monday. While it was not a save opportunity– the Cubs were up by 4– Coleman was briefly mentioned by Dale Sveum over the weekend as someone who could be a 9th inning option. While Sveum strongly endorsed James Russell and Shawn Camp for the role, Coleman could be a dark horse for saves. Hierarchy change: Casey Coleman to 2nd in line, replacing Rafael Dolis.

May 28, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Dale Sveum told the Chicago Tribune before Sunday’s game that Rafael Dolis would be moved back to a middle relief role, and then followed through, using Dolis in the 6th inning. Sveum said the Cubs would play match-ups in the 9th inning for the time being. “(James Russell) and (Shawn) Camp are our two viable options right now,” he said. Hierarchy change: James Russell to Closer, Shawn Camp to Set-up, Rafael Dolis to 2nd in line.

May 27, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Saturday was another rough day for Cubs closer Rafael Dolis, who couldn’t find the strike zone and ended up hitting the game’s final batter to force in the game-winning run. Afterward, Dale Sveum said his closer’s inability to find the strike zone was “not acceptable,” though he didn’t say he would remove the young righty from the role. Dolis remains on a blazing Hot Seat and James Russell (1.74 ERA) would be the most likely candidate to replace him. No hierarchy change.

May 24, 2012
Chicago Cubs - Rafael Dolis gave up three runs in a non-save situation on Wednesday. Dolis, whose stats look uglier every day (24.2 IPs, 4.74 ERA, 10 Ks/13 BBs), could be removed from the role if he continues to struggle, particularly if the Cubs want to give Carlos Marmol another crack at the job when he returns. Rafael Dolis to Hot Seat.

May 19, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Kerry Wood retired on Friday. Shawn Camp (2.70 ERA) will take his place as the right-handed set-up man in the Cubs bullpen. Hierarchy change: Shawn Camp to 2nd in line, replacing Kerry Wood.

May 14, 2012
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Marmol was placed on the DL over the weekend, and on Sunday, Kerry Wood pitched the 8th inning in a 3-run game. Hierarchy change: Carlos Marmol to DL, Kerry Wood to 2nd in line.

May 4, 2012
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol had another terrible outing today and after the game Manager Dale Sveum said he is thinking about removing Marmol as closer. Sveum mentioned Rafael Dolis and James Russell as potential replacements. Dolis should get the first shot as he was brought on today to try and clean up Marmol’s mess. Hierarchy change: Rafael Dolis to Closer, James Russell to set-up, Carlos Marmol to 2nd in Line.

April 30, 2012
Chicago Cubs — Another astonishingly bad outing by Carlos Marmol on Sunday, who responded to a four-run lead by loading the bases and walking in a run before inducing a game-ending groundout. After the game, Dale Sveum reiterated his support for his closer, but also noted, “You’ve got to be patient, but there’s only so much you be patient with.” Indeed. No hierarchy change.

April 28, 2012
Chicago Cubs- Rafael Dolis got the 2 inning save last night. Dolis entered in the 8th with a 2 run lead and after the Cubs added 2 more runs to make it a 4 run lead, he came back on for the 9th and finished the game. With Kerry Wood on the disabled list, Dolis is the Cubs’ second-best reliever. Hierarchy change: Kerry Wood to DL, Rafael Dolis to Set-up, James Russell to 2nd in Line.

April 8, 2012
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol had another ugly performance on Saturday, two days after taking the loss in the Cubs’ opener. Marmol, who blew 10 saves in 2011, would be in more danger if set-up man Kerry Wood had been anything less than awful as well. But should Marmol continue to struggle, the Cubs may be forced to look to Wood, or perhaps to young Rafael Dolis, for the 9th inning role. Carlos Marmol to Hot Seat.

March 20, 2012
Chicago Cubs- Although Carlos Marmol has struggled in spring training, his position as the team’s closer remains secure. Kerry Wood is the clear first setup man, but with Jeff Samardzija likely headed to the rotation, it appears that young Rafael Dolis will be next in line in the Chicago pen. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Carlos Marmol, Set-up- Kerry Wood, 2nd in line- Rafael Dolis.

Sept. 21, 2011
Chicago Cubs- Kerry Wood is out for the season with a torn meniscus in his knee. Jeff Samardzija has assumed Wood’s late inning role. Hierarchy change: Jeff Samardzija to 2nd in line, replacing Kerry Wood.

Sept. 18, 2011
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol had the night off on Saturday after pitching two innings the night before, so Sean Marshall came in for the save in the 9th. No hierarchy change.

Sept. 5, 2011
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol was held out of last night’s game, having thrown 39 pitches the night before, so Sean Marshall picked up the save. After the game, Mike Quade said that Marmol is still the Cubs’ closer. No hierarchy change.

Sept. 4, 2011
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol got bombed last night and is in danger of losing his job, but it would likely be to Sean Marshall, who pitched the 8th inning last night, not Kerry Wood, who was used for the 7th. This one wasn’t about match-ups; Marshall has surpassed Wood on the depth chart. Hierarchy change: Marshall to Set-up, Wood to 2nd in line. Marmol to “Hot Seat.”

Aug. 16, 2011
Chicago Cubs- Carlos Marmol was given a day off last night after pitching 5 of the 6 previous games. Kerry Wood got the save. No hierarchy change.

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