Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in line2022 CloserUpdated
CHC*Rowan WickCodi HeuerAdam MorganRowan Wick10/3/21

* = closer-by-committee

Previous updates:

October 3, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick struck out a pair in a scoreless 9th inning to pick up his fifth save of the season.  Wick had a couple of very rough outings in the middle of September, but overall he performed pretty well in the closer’s role and could have a shot to start the season in that role next year.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

September 30, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick keeps getting used in the eighth inning, the last two times in front of Codi Heuer, who rebounded from two straight losses to pitch a perfect ninth and earn Wednesday’s save. With only four games left, either Wick or Heuer could get what remains of the Cubs’ save chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

September 17, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Manager David Ross said Rowan Wick and Codi Heuer are Chicago’s best closer options. “I’m comfortable with either one of those guys in the ninth,” Ross said. We’ll leave Wick atop the hierarchy and slide Heuer up accordingly. We also reserve the right to add an asterisk if Wick starts splitting more save opportunities. 

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Heuer | Morgan.

September 7, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Rowan Wick got the day off after throwing 2 innings Sunday, so Adam Morgan picked up the save in his stead. We’ll move Morgan up to the handcuff slot.

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Morgan | Heuer.

September 6, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Sunday marked four straight save chances (three conversions) for Rowan Wick. We’re removing his asterisk as we figure he’s the go-to guy for the Cubs for the rest of the year.

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Heuer | Morgan.

September 4, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick struck out the side in a perfect 9th inning to earn his second save of the season.  Wick has been used in the 9th for a save situation in his last three appearances, though he blew the save on Thursday.  If this usage continues, Wick could establish himself as the primary closer for the Cubs to finish the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

September 2, 2021
Chicago Cubs — When the Cubs activated Adbert Alzolay from the IL on Wednesday, they decided to move the young starter (4-13, 5.16 ERA) to the bullpen to keep his innings down. Alzolay responded with four brilliant innings to earn his first career save. 

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

September 1, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick threw a perfect ninth inning on Tuesday to record his first save since August 18, 2020.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

August 26, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Lefty Adam Morgan, who has quietly been the Cubs’ most effective reliever since the All-Star break, effectively protected a three-run lead in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader. The veteran Morgan has overcome injury woes over the last two seasons to become a key man in the Chicago bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Heuer | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

August 18, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Codi Heuer retired all six batters he faced over the final two innings to pick up his first save of the season and help the Cubs snap a 12-game losing streak. Rowan Wick struggled through the seventh inning, loading the bases before getting a strikeout and then watching Adam Morgan need just one pitch to get the Cubs out of the inning unscathed. This was just Wick’s third appearance (and first high-leverage outing) since returning from the IL, which is understandable given how bad the Cubs have been this month. We’ll hold Wick at the top of the committee for now and see if Heuer truly becomes the top option for whatever save chances the Cubs stumble into during the final weeks of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Heuer | Rodriguez.
* = closer-by-committee

August 11, 2021
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs activated Rowan Wick from the IL prior to the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. Wick pitched a perfect seventh inning in that contest with the Cubs trailing, 6-2. It was his first MLB appearance since Sept. 16, 2020. We’ll move Wick right to the top of this committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Heuer | Rodriguez.
* = closer-by-committee

August 5, 2021
Chicago Cubs — 24-year-old rookie Manuel Rodriguez overcame the walk-off homer he gave up in his last appearance to convert his first career save in a 3-2 win on Wednesday. That’s the sort of thing that will get a guy into the hierarchy right away, and we’ll keep monitoring this situation to see if Codi Heuer — who has been excellent since crossing town at the trade deadline — is really the best bet for saves or simply the Cubs’ relief ace.

Updated hierarchy: *Heuer | Ryan | Rodriguez.
* = closer-by-committee

August 1, 2021
Chicago Cubs —  The first post-Kimbrel save for the Cubs went to…Kyle Ryan!  The lefty reliever who recently got called back up pitched a scoreless 9th inning for his first save.  Rex Brothers struggled in the 8th inning and Codi Heuer was impressive in his debut.  Brothers has now given up eight earned runs over his last five appearances and while it’s hard to predict too much after just one game without Kimbrel, we think that Heuer, the guy that the Cubs got back in the Kimbrel trade, did enough to put himself in a good position to earn saves moving forward.

Updated hierarchy: *Heuer | Brothers | Ryan.
* = closer-by-committee

July 30, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Score another one for the Vulture Trade Watch, although it didn’t take a genius to predict Craig Kimbrel was headed out the door at Wrigley. In his absence, we expect some combination of Rex Brothers and Dan Winkler to handle the ninth until Rowan Wick can come back and make it his. Codi Heuer, who’s coming over from the White Sox in the trade, might also get some late-inning play.

Updated hierarchy: *Brothers | Winkler | Morgan.
* = closer-by-committee

July 30, 2021
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs traded a relief pitcher! But it wasn’t Craig Kimbrel, yet. The Cubs shipped Ryan Tepera across town to the White Sox. Behind Kimbrel (again, for now) is a group that includes Rex Brothers and Dan Winkler. Rowan Wick is currently rehabbing at Triple-A and could factor in soon.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Brothers | Winkler.

July 27, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Andrew Chafin was the favorite to take over closing duties should Craig Kimbrel be dealt, so with the trade, Ryan Tepera, Dan Winkler, and Rex Brothers all see slight increases in their value. We’d pick Tepera if forced to choose, but it’s possible he gets dealt, too. Might be last man standing, here.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Tepera | Brothers.

July 24, 2021
Chicago Cubs — With a six-run lead going into the seventh, the Cubs turned to Keegan Thompson over the last three innings. Thompson gave up just one solo homer to lock down his first career save. Despite struggling with command, Thompson has been effective this year, although mostly in mop-up duty. He doesn’t factor into the team’s typical late-inning plans. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

July 23, 2021
Chicago Cubs — If Craig Kimbrel is traded, the returning Rowan Wick is a name to watch. He’s rehabbing with High-A and looking sharp while doing so. He’s worth a stash, especially in deep leagues. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

July 10, 2021
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs won last night, but the real news is that they are actively shopping Craig Kimbrel. With everywhere from the Astros and A’s to the Yankees as possible landing places, the Cubs will be looking to cash in on Kimbrel’s return to form. Kimbrel would likely remain a closer wherever he ends up, but that would leave Cubs job up for grabs. Andrew Chafin has been excellent taking the 8th inning and would likely be the front runner to replace Kimbrel, but Dan Winkler, Rex Brothers and the recently activated Ryan Tepera would also be in the mix. If you are speculating on the bullpen, keep in mind that Winkler, Brothers and Tepera are free agents in 2022 and could also see themselves traded away. Chafin isn’t totally safe either, as his contract has a $5.25 million mutual option for 2022, which the Cubs may not choose to pick up. As the deadline approaches, the Cubs closer may come down to whoever is left standing. 

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

June 30, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Ryan Tepera landed on the IL on Tuesday with a left calf strain. Tepera, who had been sharp this season, has allowed seven earned runs in his last four appearances, including four during a rough outing on Monday in Milwaukee. Dan Winkler may get more high-leverage opportunities until Tepera returns.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Winkler.

May 28, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Another hit for the Vulture Save Watch as both Craig Kimbrel and Andrew Chafin got a rest after pitching back-to-back games. The degree of difficulty when facing the Pirates wasn’t particularly high, but Ryan Tepera converted his first save of the year. (There were two outs man, you don’t have to chase him, just step on the bag).

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

May 26, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Rex Brothers hasn’t pitched since May 19 and doesn’t have a hold since May 17. Ryan Tepera, meanwhile, has posted an impressive 0.73 ERA in May over 12.1 IP. That includes a scoreless eighth inning in Tuesday’s victory.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Tepera.

May 8, 2021
Chicago Cubs — With Craig Kimbrel getting a night off, the Cubs turned to Andrew Chafin to face the top of the Pirates lineup in the eighth. Chafin started the ninth, but was pulled for Ryan Tepera after giving up a single. Tepera worked himself into a jam and gave way to Rex Brothers, who got pne out to earn his first save. Kimbrel has been dominant and should be back in action today.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Brothers.

April 30, 2021
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs designated Brandon Workman for assignment. Filling his void in the depth chart is Rex Brothers, for now. Brothers has looked good (15 Ks in 9.1 IP with three holds), but keep an eye on Dillon Maples, who typically pitches in Cubs defeats but has looked strong himself (1.93 ERA, 16 Ks in 9.1 IP). 

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Brothers.

April 18, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Workman has been activated from the COVID related IL, and should slide back into his spot behind closer Craig Kimbrel and set-up man Andrew Chafin.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Workman.

April 13, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Three Cubs relievers — Brandon Workman, Dan Winkler, and Jason Adam — were placed on the COVID-19 IL, so we’re shaking up the hierarchy a bit. And so for the first time since 2017, we welcome Rex Brothers, who has two holds so far this season, back to a major league hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Chafin | Brothers.

April 9, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel looked dominant Thursday, striking out three across 1.2 IP to pick up his second save and the 350th of his Hall of Fame career. Aside from any time he was injured — or those few months in 2019 he spent waiting for a free agent contract — Kimbrel has appeared on a hierarchy for the entirety of Closer Monkey’s existence. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Workman.

April 6, 2021
Chicago Cubs – Alec Mills picked up his first save of the season, spelling Craig Kimbrel, who got the night off. Andrew Chafin was dynamite in the set-up role, striking out all four batters he faced, and Brandon Workman will likely continue to get late-inning work, so we’ll monitor where Mills fits in going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Chafin | Workman.

March 26, 2021
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Workman has had an impressive spring in his attempted return from a terrible 2020, and David Ross is singing his praises. If Workman has truly recaptured his spectacular 2019 form, he’ll be the Cubs’ best setup option by far.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Workman | Chafin.

March 5, 2021
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs let 2020 closer Jeremy Jeffress walk, which means that Craig Kimbrel will start the year as the closer for the Cubs. Kimbrel finished the year looking every bit like the pitcher Chicago thought they were getting when they signed him to a $43 million contract in 2019, only giving up 2 runs over his last 15 appearances. Behind Kimbrel, the Cubs will have a lot of decisions to make with multiple veteran relievers in camp with them. Ryan Tepera and Dan Winkler return from solid-but-not-spectacular 2020 campaigns. The Cubs took a flyer on former set up man Pedro Strop and signed Boston transplant Brandon Workman who had a forgettable 2020. Andrew Chafin will serve as the primary left-handed reliever. The most interesting player to watch is Rowan Wick who was a high leverage reliever for most of 2020, but he has still not fully recovered from the oblique injury that ended his 2020 season.

Starting 2021 hierarchy: Kimbrel | Winkler | Chafin.
Holds candidates: Chafin, Winkler, Tepera, Wick.

September 20, 2020
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs bullpen suffered a big blow as Rowan Wick has been placed on the IL.  Wick has been the most versatile member of the Cubs’ bullpen this season.  Jason Adam, who hasn’t allowed an earned run yet in September, should see more time at the back-end of the Cubs’ bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Kimbrel | Adam.

September 13, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Jeremy Jeffress and Rowan Wick got the day off yesterday as predicted by the vulture save watch and Craig Kimbrel was able to convert the save chance after the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 9th.  This was Kimbrel’s first save of the season and he hasn’t allowed a run yet in September.  

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Wick | Kimbrel.

September 9, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Jeremy Jeffress has collected the Cubs’ last four saves, including the final three outs of Tuesday’s win. David Ross said that while nobody has the label of closer, Jeffress is “probably the guy that’s going to be on the back end for a little bit.” The manger may not want to officially name a closer, but we’re kicking the asterisk until further notice.

Hierarchy remains: Jeffress | Wick | Kimbrel.

August 30, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Jeremy Jeffress threw a scoreless 7th inning in the first game of the doubleheader to pick up his 4th save of the season.  In the second game, Rowan Wick worked a scoreless 6th and Craig Kimbrel got the call in the 7th to try and close it out.  Unfortunately for Cubs’ fans (and fantasy owners), Kimbrel struggled and took the loss.  Jeffress has now recorded the Cubs last two saves and seems to have moved to the head of the committee.

Updated hierarchy: *Jeffress | Wick | Kimbrel.
* = closer-by-committee

August 24, 2020
Chicago Cubs – An awkward two-thirds of an 8th inning from Craig Kimbrel (two strikeouts followed by two walks) left four outs for Jeremy Jeffress, who had a similarly unconvincing outing — a lineout to get out of the 8th, then two quick outs in the 8th followed by a hit and two walks — but managed to keep runs off the board by inducing a game-ending groundout. Rowan Wick had thrown 18 pitches on Saturday and probably could’ve been used here, but it worked out for the Cubs in the end.

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Jeffress | Kimbrel.
* = closer-by-committee

August 20, 2020
Chicago Cubs —  In the second game of a doubleheader, the Cubs asked Jeremy Jeffress to hold a 1 run lead in the 6th inning while facing the heart of the Cardinals lineup. He struggled with his command, walking two and giving up a run, but would go on to earn the win after the Cubs scored 2 in the top of the 7th. The Cubs then gave the ball to Craig Kimbrel, who struck out all 3 batters he faced to pick up his first save of the year. After an awful start to his season, Kimbrel has quietly put together 3 excellent outings: giving up only 1 walk, while recording 7 strikeouts over 3 innings. We think Rowan Wick, who was resting after pitching back to back games, is still the head of this committee. However, the Cubs would love to get Craig Kimbrel, who they signed for $43 million to be their closer, back on track. 

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Kimbrel | Jeffress.
* = closer-by-committee

August 15, 2020
Chicago Cubs — Don’t look now, but on Friday night, Craig Kimbrel broke a streak of seven straight appearances allowing a run, and he did it with more swinging strikes (six) than he had induced all season long.

Hierarchy remains: *Wick | Jeffress | Kimbrel.
* = closer-by-committee

August 14, 2020
Chicago Cubs – The Cubbies are 13-3, so it would appear many more save chances are coming, but who will be getting the bulk of them? Rowan Wick converted his third save Thursday and appears to be ripping the role out of the hands of Craig Kimbrel, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 6 and still sports a 23.63 ERA. Manager David Ross this week said fixing Kimbrel is going to “take a minute,” but that he is “moving in the right direction.” This suggests that Kimbrel is broken, and a broken pitcher typically is not a winning team’s closer. 

Updated hierarchy: *Wick | Jeffress | Kimbrel.
* = closer-by-committee

August 7, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel got some work in the eighth inning of a 12-0 game Thursday. He allowed a triple, a walk, and an RBI single before getting two groundouts and a punchout. The appearance dropped his ERA to 23.63. He has allowed at least one run in every appearance this season. 

Hierarchy remains: *Kimbrel | Wick | Jeffress.
* = closer-by-committee

August 5, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Just when you thought Craig Kimbrel was out, David Ross pulled him back in to try and protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning. That experiment lasted three batters, with Kimbrel recording one out before departing with runners on second and third. Kyle Ryan came in and allowed both runners to score before securing the save. After the game, manager David Ross explained that he wanted to get Kimbrel some work, ideally with his team ahead, and that the Cubs need to get him innings. Ross and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein are publicly supporting Kimbrel, but don’t be shocked if Rowan Wick gets the next save chance.

Hierarchy remains: *Kimbrel | Wick | Jeffress.
* = closer-by-committee

August 4, 2020
Chicago Cubs – After Rowan Wick cleaned up a messy 9th inning for the Cubs on Saturday, David Ross wouldn’t commit to giving Craig Kimbrel the next save chance, and yesterday, he followed through on that not-committing, again turning to Wick for the last 4 outs of the game. That doesn’t mean Wick is the new closer — afterwards, Ross cited matchups and rest, saying that “every game will be different” — but look for him to share opportunities with Kimbrel and Jeremy Jeffress going forward. We’ll monitor to see if anyone takes a clear lead.

Updated hierarchy: *Kimbrel | Wick | Jeffress.
* = closer-by-committee

August 2, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Kyle Ryan started the 9th inning with the Cubs up 4, but after he gave up a two-run homer and a double, Rowan Wick got the call.  Wick gave up an RBI groundout to cut the lead to one but he was able to finish off the Cubs’ win for his first save of the season.  Jeremy Jeffress had another solid outing, as he entered the 7th inning with the bases loaded and two outs and was able to get out of the jam before coming back out for a scoreless 8th.  Closer Craig Kimbrel has struggled in both his appearances this season and manager David Ross would not commit to Kimbrel getting the next save chance.  Jeffress is a good speculative add at this point in case Kimbrel can’t get back on track.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Jeffress | Wick.

July 28, 2020
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel picked up where he left off in 2019, entering the game with a 3-run lead and exiting it with 2 runs in, the bases loaded, and only 1 out recorded. Fortunately, Jeremy Jeffress was up to the task, striking out the first hitter he faced and then inducing a game-ending flyout. Sick hold, Craig.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Jeffress | Wick.

February 26, 2020
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs, for better or worse, will get their first full season of Craig Kimbrel as closer in 2020, as Kimbrel is currently on schedule to be ready for the season opener. It will be a new-look, low-cost bullpen after Kimbrel, as the Cubs lost Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek to free agency, and Brandon Morrow still isn’t any nearer to a return. The Cubs signed Jeremy Jeffress to a one-year deal in hopes the former Milwaukee closer bounces back after a rough 2019. Rowan Wick, who was a closer-by-default at times last year, is back and will join Kyle Ryan as part of the Cubs’ late-inning plans. Ryan Tepera and Dan Winkler are new to Chicago and will be fighting for a spot in the bullpen as well.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Kimbrel | Wick | Jeffress.
Holds candidates: Wick, Jeffress, Ryan

September 29, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Kintzler picked up his first save of the season and wagged his finger at the Cardinals after getting the final out.  The Cubs have shut Craig Kimbrel down for the season.  If you are desperate for a save on the last day of the season you could take a chance on Rowan Wick.

Hierarchy remains: Wick | Kintzler | Strop.

September 22, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Two days after he came of the IL and gave up a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning, Craig Kimbrel had a chance to redeem himself and close out a one-run victory. Instead, the Cardinals homered on his first two pitches of the inning en route to a 9-8 loss. Joe Maddon was surprised at the result, and now he’s worried about Kimbrel’s confidence. Maddon also said he wants to continue to turn to Kimbrel in save situations. We won’t blame you if your team doesn’t as you play for a fantasy title.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Wick | Kintzler.

September 20, 2019
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs activated Craig Kimbrel Thursday and immediately thrust him into action in a tie game in the 10th inning. He took the loss after allowing a go-ahead home run to Matt Carpenter, who hadn’t homered since Aug. 25. While he might see off days here and there, possibly including today, Kimbrel (0-3. 1.53 WHIP, 5.95 ERA) will return to closer duties for the stretch run. Brandon Kintzler, who originally targeted today for a return, is now more likely to be back early next week.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Wick | Kintzler.

September 18, 2019
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs are encouraged by Craig Kimbrel’s progress as he recovers from a sore right elbow. Kimbrel will be evaluated today and has a chance to return from the IL in time for this weekend’s series with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Brandon Kintzler has not pitched since Sept. 10 and is hoping to be ready to throw a bullpen session in a few days. Rowan Wick, Steve Cishek, Alec Mills, Kyle Ryan and David Phelps will be the arms Joe Maddon trusts most to close out games until Kimbrel and Kintzler return.

Hierarchy remains: Wick | Kintzler | Cishek.

September 14, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Up 10 in the seventh, the Cubs sent Alec Mills to the mound, and he finished the game while giving up just one run. It was the first save of Mills’s three-season MLB career, and if you got credit for it by starting him yesterday, we’ll give you free Closer Monkey premium! Just send us an email with proof.

Hierarchy remains: Wick | Kintzler | Cishek.

September 6, 2019
Chicago Cubs — There was no save chance Thursday for the Cubs, but if there had been, Craig Kimbrel would not have been available after his second trip to the IL this season. Kimbrel has elbow inflammation, so expect Rowan Wick, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek to compete for saves while he heals.

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Kintzler | Cishek.

September 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel was placed on the injured list for the second time this season with elbow inflammation. Cubs president Theo Epstein said Kimbrel felt something during his appearance on Sunday, but an MRI revealed nothing structurally wrong. One writer named Rowan Wick, Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek as candidates for saves. Pedro Strop has allowed a total of five runs over his last six appearances, so he might be further away from save chances than we’re used to. 

Updated hierarchy: Wick | Kintzler | Cishek.

August 23, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick got that vulture save we predicted, closing out a 1-0 win for the Cubs on Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Wick | Strop.

August 22, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow will not pitch this season, is unlikely to return to the Cubs, and may call it a career after learning that he needs surgery on his ailing right ulnar nerve. Morrow’s last appearance was July 15, 2018.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Wick | Strop.

August 21, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel earned his first save since returning from the IL, striking out a batter in a 1-2-3 ninth inning. This came after Rowan Wick completed a perfect eighth inning. In other good news, the Cubs activated Steve Cishek from the IL. We’ll see how quickly Cishek can get back into form before moving him into the hierarchy, but at least the Cubs have all their options heading into the final month of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Wick | Strop.

August 19, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel was activated from the IL on Sunday morning, and immediately got the 9th inning, albeit with the Cubs up by 7 runs. Kimbrel got the first two outs of the inning, also allowing a solo home run and a hit by pitch, before Pedro Strop got the last out. It seems likely that the Cubs, which have had a rather disastrous bullpen stretch in recent weeks, will ease Kimbrel back into the role sooner rather than later.

Updated hierarchy: *Kimbrel | Strop | Wick.
* = closer-by-committee

August 18, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Rowan Wick closed out a 2-0 Cubs win to get his first career save.  The Cubs are expected to activate Craig Kimbrel from the IL today.  

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Kintzler | Wick.
* = closer-by-committee

August 17, 2019
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs activated Brandon Kintzler from the IL yesterday, and after Kyle Ryan faced the first two batters in the ninth, Kintzler came on to finish the game. After getting one out he walked three straight batters, one intentionally, to give up the lead before giving up a walk-off single. Craig Kimbrel can’t return fast enough; he was eligible yesterday, but the Cubs are still weighing a possible rehab assignment for the big-money acquisition. After back-to-back blown saves from their patchwork bullpen, the Cubs may activate Kimbrel today.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Kintzler | Phelps.
* = closer-by-committee

August 16, 2019
Chicago Cubs — It all unraveled so quickly for the Cubs on Thursday. They held a 5-1 lead entering the ninth, but could not hold serve, allowing six runs in a crushing defeat. Rowan Wick and Pedro Strop played key roles in the disaster; Wick got the last two outs in the eighth, then ran into trouble in the ninth and was lifted for Strop, who allowed two baserunners without recording an out. Everyone came home when Derek Holland coughed up a walkoff grand slam to Bryce Harper. This leads us to Craig Kimbrel, who “felt fine” after a bullpen session Thursday and could be activated as soon as Friday — or later, if he gets a rehab assignment. After Thursday’s debacle, we’d bet on the former.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Wick | Phelps.
* = closer-by-committee

August 12, 2019
Chicago Cubs — With pretty much every other high-profile reliever on the Cubs on the IL, Joe Maddon went to Pedro Strop for the 9th inning yesterday. Strop converted for his 10th save of the year; David Phelps and Rowan Wick were used to bridge the gap to him. We’ll adjust the hierarchy accordingly.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Wick | Phelps.
* = closer-by-committee

August 11, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Steve Cishek is the latest Cubs’ bullpen member to go on the IL.  Rowan Wick should see more time in the later innings while Cishek is out. 
Updated hierarchy: *Phelps | Strop| Wick.
* = closer-by-committee

August 7, 2019
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs placed Brandon Kintzler on the 10-day IL and activated Pedro Strop from the IL. Joe Maddon said that Strop, who returned without having gone on a rehab assignment, will be eased back in and won’t close. He also won’t pitch on back-to-back days. This means guys like David Phelps and Steve Cishek will get a shot at save chances. You may even see Rowan Wick or Kyle Ryan pitching in some high-leverage spots. We’ll continue to monitor what will be a very intriguing week for the Cubs’ bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: *Phelps | Cishek | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

August 6, 2019
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs placed Brandon Kintzler on the 10-day IL and activated Pedro Strop from the IL. We’ll put Strop at the top of the committee for now, but know that he could be eased into high-leverage innings. Joe Maddon even said that tonight will be a juggling match in the late innings. David Phelps may be in line for another save with Steve Cishek having thrown 31 pitches last night and Strop just activated.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Phelps | Cishek.
* = closer-by-committee

August 6, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel was placed on the 10-day IL on Monday with a knee issue. Joe Maddon said the Cubs will deploy a committee in his absence; the first save chance went to David Phelps, who converted. Success tends to breed more opportunities in these spots, so we’ll slot Phelps in just behind Brandon Kintzler for now. Kintzler has been Chicago’s most consistent reliever and likely would’ve gotten the 9th if he hadn’t needed to bail Steve Cishek out in the 8th instead. Cishek and Rowan Wick could also see occasional chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Kintzler | Phelps | Cishek.
* = closer-by-committee

August 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Craig Kimbrel was placed on the 10-day IL with a knee issue. The Cubs could deploy a committee in his absence, with Brandon Kintzler and/or Steve Cishek getting at least a share of the opportunities.

Updated hierarchy: *Kintzler | Cishek | Wick.
* = closer-by-committee

August 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Tyler Chatwood pitched the final three innings of what turned into a 5-run Cubs victory on Sunday, earning his second save of the year. He does not factor into Chicago’s usual late-inning plans. 

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kintzler | Cishek. 

July 31, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop is back on the 10-day IL with left neck tightness. That probably means more high-leverage work for Steve Cishek, though newly acquired David Phelps could also be a dark horse candidate for a hold or two during Strop’s absence.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Kintzler | Cishek.

July 27, 2019
Chicago Cubs — A Holland was on the move yesterday, although it was Derek and not Greg. Derek Holland was traded from the Giants to the Cubs to shore up their left-handed relief options. Holland hasn’t been great this year, but his stats against lefties are solid enough to make him a LOOGY option in Chicago. Holland may be in the mix for holds, but probably won’t be a target for clear save chances unless Joe Maddon gets real cute.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Strop | Kintzler.

July 4, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel blew his first save for the Cubs; his numbers are putrid, but he remains confident. Behind him, Brandon Kintzler has edged ahead of Steve Cishek to be second in line.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Strop | Kintzler.

June 28, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel was activated and thrust right into duty in the ninth on Thursday. He showed signs of rust, allowing a hit and a walk, but did record a strikeout. He got Freddie Freeman, the go-ahead run, to ground out with two men on to end it. Steve Cishek was used in the sixth inning, followed by Brandon Kintzler and Pedro Strop. We’ll keep an eye on Cishek and Kintzler, who are basically splitting the second-in-line job.

Hierarchy remains: Kimbrel | Strop | Cishek.

June 27, 2019
Chicago Cubs — At long last, Craig Kimbrel will join a major league roster today. Kimbrel will be activated before this afternoon’s game against his old friends from Atlanta, and should immediately take over the ninth for the Cubs.

Updated hierarchy: Kimbrel | Strop | Cishek.

June 26, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth inning for Triple-A Iowa last night in what should be his last minor-league outing. Kimbrel is expected to join the Cubs’ bullpen by Thursday or Friday. Joe Maddon said that he doesn’t plan to use Kimbrel for more than three-out save situations until the end of the season when there are more serious playoff implications.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 22, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Joe Maddon insisted that he’s not worried about Pedro Strop, saying that Strop just needed an extra day of rest on Thursday. Craig Kimbrel pitched again in AAA on Friday and is inching closer to joining the Cubs. While it’s unclear when exactly Kimbrel will be in the majors, it is clear that Maddon will continue to be cautious with both his new closer and his interim closer as the Cubs prepare for a run to the postseason.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 21, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel is scheduled to pitch his second outing in AAA on Friday. With the future closer still shaking out the cobwebs, Steve Cishek stepped in Thursday for his seventh save. Pedro Strop hasn’t pitched since allowing two runs in an outing on Tuesday, but let’s not read too much into it yet.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 6, 2019
Chicago Cubs — As we told you last night, the Cubs locked down Craig Kimbrel with a three-year, $43 million contract. Kimbrel will take over as the Cubs’ closer — with the blessing of Pedro Strop — after a few weeks to rebuild arm strength. Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Strop got the night off and (as we predicted) Steve Cishek fought his way through some trouble to earn the save.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Craig Kimbrel will reportedly sign with the Cubs, bolstering a bullpen that just got better with the return of Pedro Strop last night. Kimbrel will not join the roster right away – Joe Maddon envisions Kimbrel needing a minimum of three weeks to build up his arm.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs activated Pedro Strop prior to Tuesday’s game. Strop immediately returned to his usual ninth-inning role, recording the final three outs of a 6-3 win. Steve Cishek may still get an occasional save chance, but Strop will once again be the primary source of saves for the Cubs.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

June 2, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop will make another rehab appearance at AAA Iowa today and could be activated after that.  The Cubs are also rumored to be interested in Craig Kimbrel.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Kintzler | Chatwood.
* = closer-by-committee

May 29, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop made his first of two rehab appearances for Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, needing just six pitches to get through the eighth inning. If everything goes as planned on Thursday, Strop should be activated this weekend. Meanwhile, Brad Brach has posted three straight bad outings and shouldn’t be seeing a save chance anytime soon. We’ll slot Tyler Chatwood, who recorded a save on May 25 and has found a little redemption this year, into the hierarchy until Strop returns.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Kintzler | Chatwood.
* = closer-by-committee

May 15, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Steve Cishek continues to lead the Cubs’ committee as he notched his second save in as many games. With Joe Maddon in charge you just never know, but it sure looks like Cishek will be the main source of saves for the Cubs until Pedro Strop returns from injury.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Kintzler | Brach.
* = closer-by-committee

May 9, 2019
Chicago Cubs — Before Wednesday’s game, Joe Maddon played to type by announcing that “anyone and everyone” could close in Pedro Strop’s absence. When the ninth inning came around with a one-run lead, Maddon sent out lefty Kyle Ryan, then pulled him for Steve Cishek after a single. That runner wound up scoring and the Cubs pulled out the win two innings later. Taking Maddon at his word, we give Cishek a slight edge over Brandon Kintzler, Brad Brach, Carl Edwards, Jr., Mitch Williams, Ronald Kaplan, Esq., and your cousin who played travel ball and hit 75 once at the Speed Pitch booth.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Kintzler | Brach.
* = closer-by-committee

May 8, 2019
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs placed Pedro Strop on the IL with a tight hamstring. Look for Steve Cishek to get the bulk of the save chances; Brandon Kintzler could potentially get a look as well.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Kintzler | Brach.
* = closer-by-committee

May 3, 2019
Chicago Cubs – In a procedural move to make room for Addison Russell on the 40-man roster, Brandon Morrow has been transferred to the 60-day injured list. Morrow suffered a recent setback. As of Tuesday, he wasn’t set to throw for another 2-3 weeks. He’s likely out for the entire first half, and maybe longer.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

May 1, 2019
Chicago Cubs – With Pedro Strop presumably unavailable, Steve Cishek got the final out of the eighth and stayed on for the ninth with the Cubs leading by a run. Cishek allowed the first two runners to reach, but his defense turned a 6-4-3 double play and Cishek struck out Jay Bruce looking with a runner on third to earn his first save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

April 29, 2019
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs won a 15-inning marathon in Arizona on Sunday, and their 9th pitcher of the day, something named Allen Webster, picked up the save. 

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

April 26, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow could reportedly resume throwing in a few weeks. It would appear he’s a long way from a return to the big leagues. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ current closer, Pedro Strop, is dealing with a crazy off-the-field situation after his car — a Genesis G90 that’s currently retailing as new for $69,000 — was stolen and was involved in a police chase. He was still talking with police during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game before leaving to head to the stadium, where he pitched in the ninth to earn his third save. The car is being held by authorities for at least 10 days while they deal with the investigation. 

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Cishek | Kintzler. 

April 22, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow experienced some elbow soreness, so his rehab has been temporarily shut down. There is no timetable for his return as of yet. 

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Cishek | Kintzler. 

April 12, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Now, that’s how they drew it up! Pedro Strop polished off a tidy 2-0 win with his first save after a perfect ninth inning Thursday against the Pirates. Steve Cishek was handed the eighth inning, as expected. If this scenario continues to play out this way, we may kick that asterisk — that is, until Brandon Morrow returns.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

April 5, 2019
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are off to a 1-5 start and their bullpen has not pitched well at all. This includes CJ Edwards, who allowed two more runs Thursday to inflate his ERA to 45.00. He entered with a 1-0 deficit and two runners on in the fifth inning, but by the time he was out of the game, it was 4-0 Braves. Edwards has allowed more runs (5) than recorded outs (3) this season. Brandon Kintzler has pitched pretty well out of the gate (2.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 Ks, 1 hold) and should be ahead of Edwards at this point. Injured closer Brandon Morrow is progressing as expected, and he sure is needed. As manager Joe Maddon put it after Thursday’s game, “We just have to get our bullpen in order.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Cishek | Kintzler.
* = closer-by-committee

March 25, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop is progressing from a hamstring injury, and looks to be ready for opening day. Though Joe Maddon went out of his way to say that he hasn’t declared that “Stropie” will be the closer out of the gate, we think he’s got a clear leg up on his competition.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

March 22, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop is battling a hamstring injury, but manager Joe Maddon expressed optimism Thursday that his reliever will likely be ready to open the season healthy. That would leave Strop to close while Brandon Morrow (elbow) continues to work his way back. Morrow won’t be ready until May. If Strop isn’t ready to go, Steve Cishek and CJ Edwards would be the next men up.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Cishek | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee until Brandon Morrow returns

February 21, 2019
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow was the top arm in the Cubs bullpen last year, and was outstanding when he was healthy. However, the injury that shut him down last season resulted in surgery that will keep him out for the first month of the year, which means that last year’s trio of Pedro Strop, CJ Edwards and Steve Cishek will get the bulk of the chances while Morrow is recovering. Strop was the primary closer when Morrow wasn’t available last year, while Cishek was their most consistent reliever and saw a fair number of save chances himself. Edwards has always had a live arm, but has found himself in a perennial set-up role despite his high strikeout totals. Another arm to watch is free agent acquisition Brad Brach, who has some closing experience and is looking to rebound from a disappointing 2018 with Baltimore and Atlanta. Brandon Kintzler and Mike Montgomery are veteran relievers who will round out the Cubs bullpen to start. Joe Maddon has never been shy about playing matchups and the Cubs figure to be contenders again this year, so while Morrow is worth stashing until he is ready to come back, most of the Cubs relievers can be helpful in leagues that count holds.

Starting 2019 Hierarchy: *Strop | Cishek | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee until Brandon Morrow returns
Holds candidates: Brach, Kintzler, Montgomery.

September 28, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Fan favorite Jesse Chavez picked up his fourth save in a Cubs uniform, allowing just a hit in an inning of work and dropping his Cubs ERA to 1.25. Nasty. Any one of Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson, CJ Edwards, Chavez, or Jorge de la Rosa could net a save this weekend, as the Cubs still hope to clinch the division. Meanwhile, Pedro Strop kind of pitched a bullpen session, which “encouraged” his pitching coach. Strop said last week he hoped to pitch before the end of the season, but that remains to be seen.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Wilson | Chavez.
* = closer-by-committee

September 27, 2018
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs ultimately won last night, clinching a playoff spot and hopefully saving this poor sap from needing police protection — but the real story was the team’s top three relievers combining to blow a four-run lead over the last two innings. Joe Maddon went with CJ Edwards, Steve Cishek, and Justin Wilson in that order — but with Wilson blowing the save through a single and two doubles, we can’t be sure he’ll get the next shot.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Wilson | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

September 21, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Now that Brandon Morrow is out for the season and Pedro Strop is uncertain to return, the Cubs will be hunting for a possible October closer over the final two weeks. One writer theorizes that Justin Wilson will emerge from a crowd that includes Steve Cishek, Jesse Chavez, CJ Edwards and Jorge de la Rosa, among others. Joe Maddon seemed to agree, calling Wilson a possible “linchpin.” Wilson doesn’t have a save this season, but that may change over the final 10 games.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Wilson | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

September 19, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow will miss the rest of the season because of a nagging bone bruise. With Pedro Strop still nursing a strained hamstring, the Cubs will continue to rely on a committee to help clinch another division title.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Wilson | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

September 16, 2018
Chicago Cubs — After Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless 8th inning, the Cubs mixed and matched through the 9th.  Righty Jesse Chavez started the inning and recorded the first out, lefty Randy Rosario got the second out, and righty Steve Cishek came on for the final out to record his fourth save of the season.  The Cubs have a lot of quality bullpen arms and Joe Madden likes to play matchups so it’s going to be hard to predict who will get the final out each night.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Wilson | Edwards.
* = closer-by-committee

September 15, 2018
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs patchwork bullpen turned in an excellent performance last night with Dillon Maples and Jamie Garcia pitching ahead of Jorge De La Rosa. De La Rosa is a surprise candidate for the first save of the Strop and Morrow-less Cubs, but Steve Cishek, CJ Edwards and Justin Wilson had all pitched in three of the last four games, leaving De La Rosa as a well-rested option. The 37-year-old isn’t likely to see many more save chances, as Cishek and Edwards have the inside track on this committee and Brandon Morrow is set to return next week, but last night highlights just how wide open this committee is and how willing Maddon is to play matchups in the late innings when necessary.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

September 14, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop injured his left hamstring while trying to beat out a throw to first base in the 10th inning of Thursday’s game. Strop was batting with one out and the bases loaded, puzzling Cubs fans, but Joe Maddon explained that he planned to send Strop back out to pitch if the team scored. Strop says he’s out for at least two weeks and will undergo an MRI this weekend. Replacing Strop should be a committee with Steve Cishek at the front, followed by the struggling CJ Edwards, Justin Wilson, and perhaps Jesse Chavez. Cishek closed earlier this season when Brandon Morrow was out, while Chavez has nailed down three second-half saves himself. Morrow, for what it’s worth, hopes to return next week, and what was slated to be a gradual return to high-leverage might need to be sped up. Who actually recorded the save Thursday? Of course, it was no one we just mentioned: enter Robert Rosario. It was Rosario’s first career save, but his peripherals (5.5 K/9, 1.43 WHIP) suggest you shouldn’t count on him to pick up many more chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

September 13, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Closer Pedro Strop was injured Thursday trying to beat out a throw at first base. ESPN’s Buster Olney says based on his reaction, it looks like a left hamstring injury. If that diagnosis is correct, it’s a tough blow to the Cubs, who will now turn to a committee of Steve Cishek, CJ Edwards and Justin Wilson, who all have picked up late-inning holds lately. Don’t sleep on Jesse Chavez, though, who has three saves in the second half. Regular closer Brandon Morrow expects to be back before the end of the season, though what his role will be isn’t clear yet.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

September 12, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Carl Edwards Jr has walked at least one batter in each of his last four appearances, which he equates to a form of writer’s block. Whatever the reason for his recent struggles, Joe Maddon likely won’t hesitate to pitch him in a high-leverage spot in a bid to get him right for October.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

September 7, 2018
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs used their late-inning hierarchy earlier in Thursday’s game, so for an extra-inning save, Joe Maddon successfully turned to Jesse Chavez. Meanwhile, injured closer Brandon Morrow is expected to throw from a mound on Sunday for the first time in three weeks — a true test to see if he’ll be able to return to his closing duties before the end of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

August 29, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow still hasn’t thrown off a mound since going on the DL in July. Morrow is due back in September, but Joe Maddon said that Morrow will not automatically return to the closer’s role when he does rejoin the club.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

August 28, 2018
Chicago Cubs – After Steve Cishek and Carl Edwards Jr. handled the 7th and 8th, things got interesting for Pedro Strop in the 9th. Strop allowed two base runners while recording only one out, after which he was promptly removed. Justin Wilson gave up a hit to the only batter he faced, but then Jesse Chavez managed to finish off the game to pick up the save. There has been no indication of injury and Joe Maddon is the type of manager who would pull his closer in favor of a better matchup, so there is probably nothing to see here, but we’ll monitor to make sure the quick hook isn’t indicative of something more. Edwards and Cishek, for their parts, seem to be preferred options to Brandon Kintzler right now, who has given up 7 ERs in his last 3.2 IP.

Updated hierarchy: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

August 18, 2018
Chicago Cubs – As the Vulture Save Watch noted, CJ Edwards and Pedro Strop were both given the night off, leaving a mixture of four pitchers to protect a one-run lead. Joe Maddon elected to play matchups, and it fell to Jesse Chavez to get the final two outs of the game. He walked a batter but got David Freese to ground into the Pirates seventh double play of the night, tying a major league record. Chavez has been excellent since coming over from the Texas Rangers, but he isn’t going to crack the stacked Cubs hierarchy.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Kintzler | Edwards.

August 7, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Kintzler has picked up three eighth inning holds in the last four days, and appears to have quickly earned the trust of Joe Maddon. Look for him to potentially get save chances when Pedro Strop is unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Strop | Kintzler | Edwards.

August 4, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop got the 9th yesterday in a three-run game. He struggled, letting a pair of runs score, but he did record his sixth save of the year and fourth in a row since Brandon Morrow hit the DL. Strop is the only Cub that has seen a save opportunity since Morrow’s injury, and CJ Edwards, Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler all pitched ahead of him last night. It’s safe to say that Strop is the lead arm in the bullpen and we will kick the asterisk while Morrow is sidelined.

Hierarchy remains: Strop | Edwards | Cishek.

August 1, 2018
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs added former National Brandon Kintzler at the deadline, giving them another late-inning option. Joe Maddon said that his bullpen has a lot of guys who can finish a game, and Kintzler very well might be one of those guys. We’ll hold him out of the hierarchy for now, but don’t be too surprised if Kintzler pitches in a few different scenarios for the Cubs.

Hierarchy remains: *Strop | Edwards | Cishek.
* = closer-by-committee

July 26, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Another save opportunity for Pedro Strop moves him to the top of the Cubs’ pecking order. Brandon Morrow is not expected to return anytime soon, so if the Cubs fail to add a big-name reliever, Strop may be able to make the job his own.

Updated hierarchy: *Strop | Edwards | Cishek.
* = closer-by-committee

July 25, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Theo Epstein shared some good news for Brandon Morrow owners yesterday, as he said that he doesn’t think the team will acquire a replacement closer at the deadline. That doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t be in the market for some bullpen help, but Morrow’s job should be safe once his slow return from the DL is complete.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Edwards | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

July 20, 2018
Chicago Cubs — As we reported yesterday, Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list again before Thursday’s game. Morrow said the biceps injury is “a new one,” but he doesn’t expect to be out long. In the short term, Joe Maddon will play matchups, turning the Cubs’ situation into a volatile committee. Steve Cishek (three saves this year) is likely to pick up some opportunities, but he got his first shot in the seventh inning ahead of Justin Wilson, CJ Edwards and Pedro Strop, who got one out to earn the save. Late last night, the Cubs traded for reliever Jesse Chavez. With Morrow’s health in doubt, the Cubs may be all the more likely to make a more significant bullpen move — perhaps for Zach Britton — before the deadline.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

July 19, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow is back on the disabled list, with right biceps inflammation, so maybe he was taking off his shirt this time. His time off last month didn’t clarify who would be favored to close in his absence, and the Cubs have three really good options: Steve Cishek (124 career saves), CJ Edwards (15.4 K/9 rate), and Pedro Strop (six straight years with sub-3 ERA for Cubs). We can’t tell you which of these guys will get the next save opp, but if you make us, we’ll rank them in that order. Also note: Joe Maddon thinks Morrow will be back soon.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Edwards | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

July 11, 2018
Chicago Cubs — For the second time since Brandon Morrow came off the DL, Joe Maddon gave his closer a second day off. Instead, Maddon turned to Steve Cishek in the ninth inning on Tuesday, and Cishek delivered for his third save of the season in a 2-0 win. Maddon raved about his deep bullpen, and he showed off that depth on Tuesday by also using Justin Wilson in the eighth after CJ Edwards struck out the side in the seventh. It’s clear that Maddon has options, and it’s also clear he’s not afraid to use them in order to give Morrow extra rest. While it truly could be anybody getting the ball in the ninth when Morrow’s not available, we’ll slide Cishek into that spot after Tuesday’s strong outing.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Edwards.

July 7, 2018
Chicago Cubs — CJ Edwards returned from his DL stint and struck out the only batter he faced yesterday. Edwards may need a few more appearances to get up to speed after missing all of June. Pedro Strop and Steve Cishek have been very good as bridges to Brandon Morrow, but Edwards was getting the 8th inning before his injury and will likely work his way back there soon.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Strop | Edwards.

July 4, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Brandon Morrow earned a second day off on Tuesday after Sunday’s four-out save. With Morrow unavailable, Joe Maddon turned to Steve Cishek in the eighth before handing the ball to Pedro Strop in the ninth for the save. Cishek was filthy against the heart of the Tigers’ order, but we’ll edge Strop ahead of Cishek in the hierarchy based off of yesterday’s usage.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Strop | Cishek.

June 28, 2018
Chicago Cubs — As expected, Brandon Morrow was activated from the disabled list and should immediately return to closing for the Cubs. Removing his pants, however, should probably become a committee job.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

June 27, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow will likely return from the DL today. The Cubs didn’t win much in his absence, but the bullpen’s deployment in his absence answered few questions about who would get save chances should the oft-injured righty get hurt again. Steve Cishek, who was leading our hierarchy, entered the game last night with a 7-2 lead in the 6th inning last night, pitching well in his two innings of work, but not exactly appearing in a spot for a traditional closer. At any rate, expect Morrow to immediately return to his 9th inning role (we won’t be sending an alert since this is a DL activation) and expect continued confusion if he gets hurt again.

Hierarchy remains: *Cishek | Strop | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 21, 2018
Chicago Cubs — As we told you yesterday, Brandon Morrow’s disrobing misadventures landed him on the disabled list. In the short term, we think Steve Cishek has the edge over Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Strop | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 20, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow has been placed on the disabled list with lower back tightness. Joe Maddon said this afternoon that the Cubs will mix and match in the 9th, so we’ll slap a committee tag on here, but our best bet is that Steve Cishek gets the plurality of opportunities, while Justin Wilson and Pedro Strop also receive chances.

Updated hierarchy: *Cishek | Strop | Wilson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 10, 2018
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs decided to give Brandon Morrow a second day of rest on Saturday, and they used Steve Cishek instead.  Cishek pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his second save of the season.  Brandon Morrow is still clearly the closer but with Cishek and Pedro Strop also pitching well, the Cubs have the luxury of giving Morrow more days off throughout the year.

Hierarchy remains: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

June 9, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop got the last out of the 8th inning in a two-run game and returned for the 9th to pick up his first save of the year. Both Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek had pitched in back-to-back games, and Joe Maddon opted to rest them on Friday.

Hierarchy remains: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

June 4, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow had pitched three days in a row, so he got Sunday afternoon off and lefty Brian Duensing picked up the save. Duensing is having a fine season, but this was matchup based, and he usually won’t be the guy who gets the ball when Morrow is unavailable.

Hierarchy remains: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

May 31, 2018
Chicago Cubs — Carl Edwards Jr. is suffering from shoulder inflammation and will need a few weeks off from pitching. Joe Maddon named Pedro Strop (1.59 ERA, 1.01 WHIP) and Justin Wilson (10.5 K/9) as relievers he’ll trust alongside Steve Cishek and Brandon Morrow while Edwards is recuperating.

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Strop.

May 1, 2018
Chicago Cubs – Brandon Morrow and CJ Edwards had pitched in three of the previous four games, so they both got the night off on Monday, and the Cubs patched their way through the game’s final 3 innings, culminating in a 2-out save for veteran Steve Cishek. Even on nights when Edwards is available, Cishek might occasionally be the one to spell Morrow due to his past experience in the role.

Hierarchy remains: Morrow | Edwards | Cishek.

April 9, 2018
Chicago Cubs – CJ Edwards got the 8th inning ahead of Brandon Morrow yesterday afternoon, and with the clean outing, he has now allowed just 1 run in 5 innings (with 9 Ks) to start the season. Edwards looks to be the handcuff thus far, though the Cubs have lots of other relievers that are off to hot starts, including three men who have closed for stints before: Steve Cishek, Pedro Strop, and Justin Wilson. Nice problem to have, huh?

Updated hierarchy: Morrow | Edwards | Cishek.

April 8, 2018
Chicago Cubs – It took nine games, but Brandon Morrow finally recorded his first out as a Cub (and also made his first appearance prior to the 17th inning).  Morrow struck out a pair en route to his first save of the season.  There was some concern from Cubs’ fans after Morrow had only thrown two pitches this season, but he looked great on Saturday, hitting 97 mph with his fastball.

Hierarchy remains: Morrow | Cishek | Edwards.

February 28, 2018
Chicago Cubs – For the first time in several years, the Cubs go into the season without a top tier closer to lead the bullpen. Brandon Morrow was confirmed as the closer out of the gate by Theo Epstein, but he has a solid group behind him that could press for saves if he struggles early. Newly acquired Steve Cishek was a serviceable closer in 2016, and posted solid second half numbers with Tampa Bay last year, and will likely be the first fallback option if Morrow falters. CJ Edwards, 26, has elite stuff, but still walks too many hitters and Pedro Strop throws hard but has never taken to closing. Former Tigers closer Justin Wilson is also around, as is converted starter Mike Montgomery. Wilson is the most intriguing of these options as he could vulture some saves as the primary lefty in the bullpen, and will likely pick up situational holds in leagues that count them.

Starting 2018 hierarchy: Morrow | Cishek | Edwards.
Holds candidates: Edwards, Cishek, Wilson, Strop.

September 30, 2017
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs took the lead in the eighth inning last night, and brought in the already-warm Justin Grimm for the ninth. Grimm pitched a perfect inning to pick up his first save of the year. Grimm has had a tough year, and doesn’t normally figure into the late inning plans for Chicago, but the Cubs have locked up the division, and are looking to rest their top relievers going into the playoffs. We won’t update the hierarchy based on this, but keep an eye on the vulture save watch section as the Cubs may provide a good opportunity this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Strop.

September 24, 2017
Chicago Cubs — All-Star closer Wade Davis gave up a homer to the first batter he faced yesterday, and ended up with his first blown save since last September.  After the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 10th, Davis went back out to try and close out the game again.  Unfortunately, Davis gave up another homer, this time a walk-off two run shot.  Wade Davis will be fine, but it was certainly interesting to see him blow two leads in one game after converting his first 32 save opportunities this season.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Strop.

August 30, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Justin Wilson has struggled since coming to Chicago at the trade deadline, posting a 4.00 ERA in his month with the Cubs. CJ Edwards, Pedro Strop and Koji Uehara are Joe Maddon’s preferred late-inning arms right now when the Cubs have a lead. Wilson may get back into the mix as the playoff race hits the final couple weeks, but for now he’s seeing time in low-leverage situations.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Edwards | Strop.

August 21, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Koji Uehara returned from the disabled list and pitched in a tight spot with the score tied in the tenth. He was charged with two runs, but the Cubs became the first team this season to win after trailing by multiple runs in extra innings, so he was spared the loss. We’ll return him to his normal hierarchy spot now, but we’ll track the Cubs bullpen closely this week to see if things change.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Wilson | Uehara.

August 10, 2017
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs are being careful with the 42-year-old Koji Uehara, putting him on the disabled list to recover from his neck strain. Meanwhile, CJ Edwards has been struggling (23.62 ERA in August), and Joe Maddon is talking about using him in a lower-leverage setting to get him back on track. Pedro Strop and Brian Duensing should benefit.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Wilson | Strop.

August 9, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Koji Uehara left Tuesday’s game with a stiff neck. The injury is not considered serious, and Uehara is targeting a Friday return. In the meantime, expect C.J. Edwards to see any seventh-inning opportunities should the Cubs have a lead.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Wilson | Edwards.

August 2, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Mike Montgomery pitched the final three innings of a 16-4 win Tuesday to collect his third save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Wilson | Uehara.

July 31, 2017
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs bolstered their bullpen Sunday night when they acquired Justin Wilson from the Tigers, pending a medical review. Wilson should become the primary setup man, with Koji Uehara and C.J. Edwards still in the mix for holds.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Wilson | Uehara.

June 10, 2017
Chicago Cubs — C.J. Edwards struck out the side (and allowed a run) in the seventh, while Koji Uehara again got the eighth inning ahead of Wade Davis. Both are reliable options, but the more experienced Uehara appears to be the backup to Wade Davis.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Uehara | Edwards.

June 7, 2017
Chicago Cubs – Wade Davis was activated from the paternity list on Tuesday, so the Cubs’ bullpen is back to full strength.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Uehara.

June 6, 2017
Chicago Cubs – Wade Davis was placed on the paternity list yesterday, so the Cubs turned to Mike Montgomery in the sixth inning, riding his cutters and change-ups the rest of the way. This was no three-inning-save-in-a-blowout, as the Cubs won the game 3-1, but Montgomery’s usage is more indicative of the Cubs’ trust in him as a long man and potential spot starter, rather than an indication that he’s going to get more late inning action.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Uehara.

June 5, 2017
Chicago Cubs – After pitching Friday and Saturday, Wade Davis got the night off on Sunday. What was a bit surprising was that CJ Edwards stayed in his usual 8th inning slot, while Koji Uehara stepped in to fill the 9th. Uehara, of course, has the edge in terms of experience, but it’s unclear if this is a situation where Uehara would jump Edwards to fill the role long-term, should anything happen to Davis. We will monitor their usage going forward, but you could make an argument for either player as the handcuff right now.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Edwards | Uehara.

May 26, 2017
Chicago Cubs — In one of the vulturiest vulture saves you’ll see, Mike Montgomery tossed the final four innings and allowed just one hit Thursday for his first career (regular-season) save. We’re offering free Closer Monkey Premium for the first person to prove they started Montgomery Thursday (EDIT: SO MANY OF YOU STARTED MONTGOMERY, CONGRATULATIONS, NOW PLEASE STOP EMAILING US).

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Edwards | Rondon.

May 19, 2017
Chicago Cubs — If you’re reading this, Joe Maddon, well played. A day after the monkey pulled Koji Uehara out of the Cubs hierarchy, Maddon on Thursday put Uehara into a save situation that he ultimately converted for his first save this season. It was a unique situation, to be sure. Uehara came into a 9-4 game with the bases loaded, nobody out and the tying run on deck, and after allowing a sac fly, he compiled two strikeouts to shut the door. Hector Rondon had already pitched, coming into the game in a relatively tight spot with the Cubs leading 9-1 in the seventh and allowed two inherited runs and one earned run to score to make things interesting. Carl Edwards Jr. and Wade Davis had each pitched in two straight and were probably unavailable. With Rondon faltering a bit again, the case can be made that Edwards Jr. (1.04 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 24 Ks) is next in line behind Davis, with Rondon and Uehara (among others), after that.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Edwards | Rondon.

May 18, 2017
Chicago Cubs — For the second straight game, Joe Maddon called on C.J. Edwards for the eighth-inning hold. The slim young righty has 24 strikeouts in 17.1 innings and a fantastic 1.04 ERA. Koji Uehara hasn’t done anything particularly wrong, but it’s hard to see him as better than the fourth option for the Cubs right now.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Rondon | Edwards.

April 26, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon has continued his rise in the Cubs’ bullpen, extending his streak of scoreless appearances to five games with an eighth-inning hold on Tuesday. Rondon has walked a man in three of those appearances, but with only one hit scattered amongst those four innings in addition to five strikeouts, he has continuously been solid without getting into much trouble. If he keeps pitching like this, it will be hard to keep him out of the eighth inning in close games going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Rondon | Uehara.

April 19, 2017
Chicago Cubs — So much for writing off Hector Rondon. He began the eighth inning with a one-run lead and retired the side in order thanks to a pair of strikeouts. Rondon has not allowed an earned run over his last four appearances, striking out five over 3.2 IP. In fact, he’s only allowed two hits in 23 at-bats en route to a 1.42 ERA. We’ll reward him and his new delivery with a spot back in the hierarchy, for now at least.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Uehara | Rondon.

April 16, 2017
Chicago Cubs — With the Cubs up one in the seventh inning on Saturday, they summoned Pedro Strop from the bullpen.  Unfortunately, Strop was not able to get the job done as he allowed a walk and a go-ahead homer while taking the loss. Koji Uehara, on the other hand, threw a scoreless eighth inning, and has yet to allow a run on the season.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Uehara | Strop.

April 14, 2017
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon hasn’t really been used much in high-leverage situations this year, and now he’s hurt (no, not just his feelings). He felt a pop in his left knee after a home-plate collision this week, and on Thursday he underwent an MRI, which came back clean. Manager Joe Maddon suspects he’ll be available Saturday. Regardless, he’s still behind Wade Davis, Pedro Strop, Koji Uehara and Carl Edwards Jr., at least, in the Cubs bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Davis | Strop | Uehara.

April 5, 2017
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs are two games into their season and Hector Rondon’s name hasn’t been called yet. The Cubs never led on Sunday, but with a one-run lead on Tuesday, it was Koji Uehara and Pedro Strop serving as the bridge to Wade Davis. Joe Maddon wasn’t ready to panic this past weekend over Rondon’s rough spring, but it certainly looks like he is hoping to ease Rondon into the season with some low-leverage work. Expect more of Uehara, Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. in the late innings until Rondon can find his groove again.

Updated hierarchy: Davis | Strop | Uehara.

March 1, 2017
Chicago Cubs — The World Series champions replaced one All-Star closer with another, signing Wade Davis to replace Aroldis Chapman. Davis has been one of the best relievers in the league recently, and should see a lot of save chances for an excellent Cubs team. Hector Rondon will likely be the first option if Davis struggles or gets hurt. Rondon closed most of last year, but struggled late in the season. Although Rondon seems to have Joe Maddon’s confidence, the Cubs are spoiled for choice. Newly acquired Koji Uehara and returning setup man Pedro Strop will push Rondon for vulture saves, but perhaps the most intriguing option is C.J. Edwards. With a high-90s fastball and impressive stats in his brief career, Edwards could emerge as a viable late-inning option — but he will have to work hard to crack the stacked Cubs bullpen.

Starting 2017 hierarchy: Davis | Rondon | Strop.
Holds candidates: Uehara, Edwards, Strop, Justin Grimm.

September 30, 2016
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs and Pirates played their way to a rain-shortened tie, the major leagues’ first since 2005. We’re mainly including this because we’re sad that pitchers can’t earn a “T” as a decision, because that would’ve allowed the game’s only reliever, Travis Wood, to pick one up.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Rondon | Strop.

September 28, 2016
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs took a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning on Tuesday, but when Justin Grimm got just one out and allowed three runs, Joe Maddon turned to Felix Pena to close the door on the Pirates and pick up his first career save. Aroldis Chapman had appeared in two straight games, and with the Cubs having already clinched the best record in baseball, don’t expect Chapman to be overworked entering the postseason.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Rondon | Strop.

September 24, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop was activated from the DL on Friday, and pitched a scoreless eighth with the Cubs up five. Joe Maddon indicated that he wants Strop, Rondon, and Chapman to man the late innings heading into the playoffs and, given his solid work last night, Strop will immediately crack the Cubs hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Rondon | Strop.

September 21, 2016
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs plan to activate Pedro Strop on Friday and he is expected to pitch that afternoon against the Cardinals. He is not expected, however, to see a ton of time on the mound prior to the postseason, as the Cubs anticipate Strop needing just four more innings of work upon his return.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Rondon | Edwards.

September 10, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon looked solid in a high-leverage eighth-inning hold Friday night, and should see vulture save chances over young C.J. Edwards going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Rondon | Edwards.

September 7, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon was activated Tuesday and subsequently made his first appearance since August 16. Manager Joe Maddon said that Rondon won’t slide back into a specific eighth-inning role, but we think that if both Aroldis Chapman and C.J. Edwards were unavailable, Rondon would get the call in the ninth.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Edwards | Rondon.

September 2, 2016
Chicago Cubs — As the Vulture Save Watch predicted, C.J. Edwards was called upon in the ninth Thursday with closer Aroldis Chapman needing the night off. Edwards picked up his first career save, one of a few developing storylines for the Chicago bullpen. The Cubs activated reliever Joe Smith from the disabled list Thursday and immediately thrust him into a high-leverage spot. Smith responded by setting down the side in order in the seventh and eighth innings and may continue to see more late-inning looks down the road despite a rough start to his Cubs career (3 ER, 3 HR in 3.2 IP before the DL stint). In other news, teammate Pedro Strop suffered a new injury — a strained groin — while working out and will miss an additional two weeks. Hector Rondon, meanwhile, is still rehabbing his injury and will pitch Saturday and Monday in the minors.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Edwards | Smith.

August 20, 2016
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs bullpen lost yet another arm when Hector Rondon was placed on the DL with a triceps injury. Rondon joins Joe Smith and Pedro Strop on Chicago’s crowded disabled list. In the meantime, look for the Cubs to hold the line with Travis Wood and C.J. Edwards, although that combination managed to blow a four-run lead last night. If they continue to falter, keep an eye on 2013 second-round pick Rob Zastryzny, who — in addition to having a 33-point Scrabble name — pitched a scoreless inning in his MLB debut last night.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Edwards | Wood.

August 18, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Joe Smith went to the DL Wednesday with a strained hamstring. C.J. Edwards had one terrible outing last Friday, but we still give him the edge over Justin Grimm and Travis Wood.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Rondon | Edwards.

August 12, 2016
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs have announced that righty Pedro Strop has a torn meniscus that required surgery. He is out 4-6 weeks.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Rondon | Smith.

August 11, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon hasn’t pitched in nine days (sore triceps), but Joe Maddon remains confident that he’ll return soon and avoid the DL. The need became more dire when Pedro Strop left Wednesday’s game with an apparent knee injury, unable to support his own weight. Filling in admirably was 24-year-old C.J. Edwards, who has a 0.58 WHIP and the stuff to retire Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in a tight spot. Joe Maddon doesn’t want to overload the kid, so Joe Smith will take on the bulk of Strop’s duties — but don’t sleep on C.J.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Rondon | Smith.

July 29, 2016
Chicago Cubs – Aroldis Chapman recorded four outs Thursday for his first save with his new team (and his first save of more than three outs this year). His zip-code change hasn’t stopped his heavy flow of triple-digit heat.

Hierarchy remains: Chapman | Rondon | Strop.

July 25, 2016
Chicago Cubs – It’s official — Aroldis Chapman is headed to the Cubs. He’ll close for them immediately, pushing Hector Rondon into a set-up role and Pedro Strop into the 7th inning. The trifecta gives the Cubs one of the strongest bullpens in the league as they head into the stretch run.

Updated hierarchy: Chapman | Rondon | Strop.

July 25, 2016
Chicago Cubs – It’s been widely reported that Aroldis Chapman is likely on his way to the Cubs in exchange for megaprospect Gleyber Torres, though the two clubs are still working out details and the deal hasn’t been finalized yet. Chapman is one of only a handful of relievers in the league that would displace Hector Rondon, who is having a great year, but if you read the NL Buy/Sell post, then hopefully you saw this coming and dealt him before the news broke yesterday. We’ll send an alert if and when the deal is finalized. In other Cubs news, Joe Nathan recently joined the big league club and picked up a win in his first outing, striking out three.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

June 23, 2016
Chicago Cubs — Chicago’s lone weakness is middle relief, and Justin Grimm’s performance on Wednesday will do nothing to tamp down the trade speculation. Entering with the team down two in the sixth, Grimm retired one man (on a bunt popup) while allowing four runs, and saw his ERA vault to 6.04. Converted starter Travis Wood, a lefthander, isn’t striking guys out, but he and Trevor Cahill have been significantly more effective than Grimm lately. Whoever’s third in line probably won’t be for long.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

June 10, 2016
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs are by far the best team in the National League (some say they are better than the ’27 Yankees… yeah, OK), and they continued to add ammunition Thursday, inking 40-year-old reliever Joel Peralta to a minor-league deal. Peralta was let go by the Mariners after a rough start to the season (5.40 ERA, 1.33 WHIP). It’ll be a while before he has a chance at bumping his way into the Cubs’ late-inning plans, though he’s being reunited with his former manager, Joe Maddon, who trusted him for years in Tampa Bay.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Grimm.

May 19, 2016
Chicago Cubs – When the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 13th, Joe Maddon decided to play matchups to protect a one-run lead. This allowed lefty Clayton Richard to get the last out of the game and pick up the first save of his career. Richard played quarterback at Michigan before switching to baseball and has filled a LOOGY role for the Cubs this year, but he does not normally see many save or hold opportunities.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Grimm.

March 2, 2016
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon took over the closer role in July, and never looked back. Joe Maddon has always been a wild-card with his bullpen, (see: Fernando Rodney’s career), but Rondon enters 2016 with a firm grip on the late innings for what is projected to be one of the best teams in the league. Behind him, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm will take the setup spots. While we think Strop will start the year getting the 8th inning, and would likely take over if Rondon struggles early, but Grimm is younger and has better numbers over the last two year. Also, Joe Maddon said recently that Grimm has “the kind of stuff that finishes games” while adding that he hopes that he stays in the role he had last year. Travis Wood and Rex Brothers will battle for the LOOGY role, but neither is likely to be in the mix for consistent saves in the early going.

Starting 2016 hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Grimm.
Holds candidates: Strop, Grimm, Brothers, Wood.

September 20, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Pedro Strop recorded the save yesterday after regular closer Hector Rondon got tossed for hitting the first batter in the ninth inning.  Travis Wood ended up getting the start with Joe Maddon only using members of his bullpen for the game.  We expect Wood to see more time in the later innings during normal games, but another guy to keep an eye on is Neil Ramirez, who returned from the DL on Thursday and pitched a scoreless inning.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

September 18, 2015
Chicago Cubs — The Closer Monkey went bananas Thursday when he correctly predicted a vulture save for the Cubs, but saw Travis Wood performing the honors over Fernando Rodney. Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop had been busy recently, so Joe Maddon elected to go with Wood, who picked up his second save with a clean eighth and ninth (5 Ks). He’s probably the second in line for Maddon for similar situations in the future.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

September 9, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Fernando Rodney has allowed just two hits and one run in five appearances since being traded to the Cubs, including a 1-2-3 eighth inning on Tuesday to preserve an 8-5 lead. Joe Maddon appears to have the magic touch that has turned Rodney into a reliable reliever for a likely playoff team.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Rodney.

August 28, 2015
Chicago Cubs — The Mariners somehow found someone interested in the services of Fernando Rodney, who was reunited with old friend Joe Maddon in exchange for future considerations from Chicago. The Cubs clearly have had issues in the bullpen, and with Jason Motte on the DL, the acquisition of the veteran Rodney makes some sense — especially if the Cubs have developed Stockholm Syndrome when it comes to missing the playoffs. He doesn’t seem to factor into the the late-inning discussion yet, but he’ll be ready to pitch Friday night.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Grimm.

August 16, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Justin Grimm got the last out of the seventh inning and then pitched the eighth inning ahead of closer Hector Rondon yesterday.  Grimm has yet to allow a run in August and has racked up a win, a save, and four holds so far this month.  With an ERA just over 1.00, Grimm should continue to see work in the later innings for the Cubs.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Grimm.

August 12, 2015
Chicago Cubs — With a lefty-heavy lineup coming up for the Brewers, the Cubs called on lefty James Russell to nail down the save. BOOM!! You got MADDONed! It was a planned night off for Hector Rondon.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Hunter.

August 9, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Justin Grimm got the last out of the 9th yesterday to pick up his third save of the season.  The Cubs entered the 9th inning with a 5 run lead but James Russell and Jason Motte combined to give up three runs on four hits while only recording two outs.  Grimm entered the game with the tying-run at the plate and was able to record a ground out to end the game.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Hunter.

August 2, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Tommy Hunter had an impressive debut for the Cubs.  Jason Motte originally got the call to close out a three run lead, but gave up a lead-off double and a deep fly ball that Jorge Soler made a leaping catch for an out.  Joe Maddon decided that was enough and went to his newest arm in the bullpen.  Hunter retired both batters he faced, and hit 99 on the radar gun, for this first save of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Hunter.

July 30, 2015
Chicago Cubs – A day after Joe Maddon said that he needed to “do something” with the bullpen, Hector Rondon resumed the closer’s role after he struck out two to earn his 13th save of the season in a 3-2 Cubs win. Maddon also praised Pedro Strop on Tuesday night, and with former closer Jason Motte pitching in a five-run loss on Tuesday, we’ll move Strop ahead of Motte for now.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Motte.

July 29, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Joe Maddon said last night that he anticipated Hector Rondon winning the closer’s role back, and that happened today after he struck out two of the three Rockies he faced to preserve a 3-2 win. Maddon also praised Pedro Strop last night, and with former closer Jason Motte pitching in a five-run loss last night, we’ll move Strop ahead of Motte for now.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Motte.

July 29, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Jason Motte had a much better appearance yesterday than he did on Monday, but his clean inning of work was in a 7-2 loss. After the game, Joe Maddon was asked about Hector Rondon, and Maddon indicated that not only could Rondon win the job back, but that he anticipates Rondon will do just that. Maddon then praised Pedro Strop while acknowledging that Rafael Soriano “is still not on the top of his game.” What does this mean for Motte? We’ll keep him at the top of the heap for now, but Rondon is closing in fast.

Updated hierarchy: Motte | Rondon | Strop.

July 28, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Beginning on May 16, Jason Motte had a terrific run that saw him give up just 1 run in 21 appearances, pushing him to the front of the closer-by-committee in Chicago. But after winning the full time job, he’s been more hittable, and has now allowed 13 hits in his last 6.1 innings. Last night, he was yanked before recording an out after giving up a home run, single, and double. (After Motte was pulled, Rafael Soriano didn’t fare much better, allowing a home run to Carlos Gonzalez.) There’s been no indication that Joe Maddon will revert to a closer-by-committee, but he’s more the type to just do it, and tell the media of his plans later. Either way, we recommend a long look at Hector Rondon, if he’s available in your leagues; he’s allowed only 1 earned run in his last 25 innings.

Hierarchy remains: Motte | Rondon | Soriano.

July 23, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Jason Motte got the call in the second game of a doubleheader and locked down his sixth save of the year. He’s been outstanding since taking the lead of the committee, so much so that it’s time to kick the asterisk and call him the outright closer in Chicago (at least the North Side). Rafael Soriano is still lurking as a potential challenger, but it appears that the job is Motte’s to lose at this point.

Hierarchy remains: Motte | Rondon | Soriano.

July 22, 2015
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs and Reds needed 13 innings to settle Tuesday’s tilt, and Justin Grimm was the beneficiary, picking up his second save of the season. Both of his saves this season have come in the 12th inning or later.

Hierarchy remains: *Motte | Rondon | Soriano.
* = closer-by-committee

July 20, 2015
Chicago Cubs – After Sunday’s game, the Cubs promoted Rafael Soriano to the big league club after the veteran posted seven scoreless minor league appearances. Given Joe Maddon’s familiarity with him — Soriano had arguably his best season when serving as the Rays’ closer in 2010 — we think he’ll be a factor in the late innings right away. Additionally, depending on where you stand on sunk cost theory, the Cubs ate a lot of money to get Soriano the big leagues, as they DFA’d former starter Edwin Jackson to make room for him. (Jackson still had $15.6 million left on his deal.) Pedro Strop has had a few bad outings lately, so we’ll tentatively slot Soriano in to the 2nd in line spot and see how Maddon utilizes him in the early going.

Updated hierarchy: *Motte | Rondon | Soriano.
* = closer-by-committee

July 9, 2015
Chicago Cubs – As predicted in the Vulture (Blown) Save Watch, Pedro Strop was handed the ball to protect a one-run lead in the 9th. But it turns out the Cubs could have used Jason Motte, as Strop gave up the lead and took the loss.

Hierarchy remains: *Motte | Rondon | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

July 2, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Justin Grimm picked up a one-out save after he bailed out James Russell in the 12th inning. Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Jason Motte all pitched earlier in the game, in that order. Grimm is another Cubs reliever who is having a great season, but with the logjam at the top of the hierarchy, his first career save might be his last for the foreseeable future.

Hierarchy remains: *Motte | Rondon | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

July 1, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Jason Motte picked up his second save in June, with Hector Rondon being used in the 7th and Pedro Strop taking the 8th ahead of Motte. Each of the last two save chances for the Cubs have gone to Motte, who has moved to the top of the their committee for the time being.

Updated hierarchy: *Motte | Rondon | Strop.
* = closer-by-committee

June 29, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Neil Ramirez, who had a stellar rookie campaign (1.44 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 10.9 K/9) returned from the disabled list on Sunday and pitched a scoreless inning with 2 Ks. He could find his way into the hierarchy in a hurry, and could even fight his way into the Chicago closer committee if he returns to his 2014 form.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.
* = closer-by-committee

June 23, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Joe Maddon, the Lord of the Closer Committee, continues to keep us guessing. Hector Rondon had been emerging as the leader of the pack until last night, when he and Pedro Strop pitched scoreless innings ahead of 33 year-old birthday boy Jason Motte.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.
* = closer-by-committee

June 21, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon picked up his 12th save of the season on Saturday.  Pedro Strop and Jason Motte each threw scoreless innings in a tie game ahead of Rondon, with Motte getting the win.  Based on that usage, it seems like manager Joe Maddon was saving Rondon for the save opportunity.  Rondon has now converted two straight saves and could be moving towards removing that committee label.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.
* = closer-by-committee

June 12, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Manager Joe Maddon has employed a committee lately, and Thursday night it was Hector Rondon’s turn again, as the righty picked up his 11th save. Pedro Strop pitched the eighth inning and Jason Motte was seen warming up and was ready to go if Rondon faltered in any way. Also of note, Maddon said newly signed reliever Rafael Soriano won’t get called up until after the All-Star break.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.

June 10, 2015
Chicago Cubs — The Cubs sought some bullpen help by signing former major league closer Rafael Soriano to a minor-league deal on Tuesday. Normally a minor-league signing isn’t newsworthy, but Soriano earned 32 saves in 2014 and will walk into one of the most unsettled bullpens in the league. Once he makes it to the show, expect him to be handed high-leverage situations, especially given his pro-rated $4 million salary (with $4 million more in incentives).

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.

June 8, 2015
Chicago Cubs – With Pedro Strop unavailable, Jason Motte picked up his first save since 2012. Hector Rondon pitched the 8th and faced the middle of the Nats’ lineup, so you could argue that this was the ideal deployment of Chicago’s best reliever. Regardless, a full committee is in effect here, with Strop or Rondon the most likely to get the next save.

Updated hierarchy: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.

June 7, 2015
Chicago Cubs – After Jason Hammel gave up a homer to Bryce Harper to start the 9th, the Cubs brought on Hector Rondon.  He walked the first batter he faced and was immediately pulled by Joe Maddon.  Pedro Strop came on and picked up his second save of the season.  Madden said after the game that he was not naming a new closer.  However, he did admit that he might try to get Rondon work in some non-save situations.  It sounds like it could be a committee for the near future if Rondon is getting in some work in lower-leverage situations so Strop and Motte could see some save chances while that happens.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Strop | Motte.
* = closer-by-committee

June 4, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Travis Wood was brought in for the 6th inning with the Cubs down by three, and  he promptly gave up a run and was yanked after getting only one out. It seems that his 5.44 ERA has finally caught up to him, and that he won’t be seeing the late innings until he straightens himself out. Jason Motte has been excellent recently, putting together seven straight scoreless appearances, including two holds and a win.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Motte.

May 24, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Pedro Strop pitched a perfect 9th for his first save of the season on Saturday night, as regular closer Hector Rondon got the night off.  Rondon has two blown saves in his last three appearances, but Joe Maddon still trusts his closer.  However, if Rondon has a couple more tough outings, you can expect to see him on the next Hot Seat report.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

May 17, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Travis Wood recorded his first career save on Saturday.  With the Cubs bullpen struggling, they announced that Wood will move to the bullpen.  With Wood recording a save in his first appearance, he will likely factor into the Cubs’ late inning bullpen plans.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Wood.

May 12, 2015
Chicago Cubs – Edwin Jackson has been relegated to mop-up duty recently and in his place Zac Rosscup has been very effective, sporting a 0.75 WHIP on the season. While Pedro Strop continues to regularly set-up Hector Rondon, expect Rosscup to grab plenty of holds in the late innings.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Rosscup.

April 23, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Jason Motte has had a rough start to the season, sporting an ERA over 6.00 in the early going. Edwin Jackson is reaping the benefits, and recently got a vote of confidence from his manager, saying he has earned the right to pitch in higher leverage situations. Maddon was quick to note that this was not a reflection on Motte or Brian Schlitter, but be ready to see Jackson picking up more holds for the Cubs.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Jackson.

April 18, 2015
Chicago Cubs — Neil Ramirez left Wednesday’s game with right shoulder discomfort, and yesterday’s MRI revealed inflammation, but no structural damage. Later that day, Joe Maddon went to Brian Schlitter with two on and a two-run lead in the seventh, and Schlitter immediately gave up the go-ahead home run — right after a would-be strikeout pitch that wound up leading to Maddon’s ejection. We might have gone to Jason Motte instead, but Maddon (correctly) noted that Schlitter is great at inducing ground balls (not to mention scatological puns). Three-run homers tend to weigh on the mind, however, and we think Motte will have the edge when the next late/close opportunity arrives.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Motte.

March 8, 2015
Chicago Cubs – The Cubs enter the season with more certainty at closer than they have had in years. Hector Rondon did not waste his opportunity last year, and enters this year with Joe Maddon already committing to him as the closer. Maddon has never been shy about using his closer in non-save spots though, so that takes a bite out of Rondon’s value and adds some to the other relief options. There are a lot of power arms available in the Cubs bullpen, so the true hierarchy will probably be in flux early on. Pedro Strop will start in the set-up role and Neil Ramirez will be in line in case they falter. Maddon also spoke highly of their major pick up Jason Motte, calling him a “force multiplier.” And with the recent addition of Phil Coke, they found the lefty specialist that they were looking for, and he should be in line for any LOOGY holds that pop up. Overall, the Cubs have a lot of solid options in the bullpen, but that hurts each player’s individual value, especially with Maddon’s tendency to use his best relievers in the highest-leverage spots, without worrying if they will pick up a hold or a save.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Ramirez.
Primary holds candidates – Strop, Ramirez.

August 27, 2014
Chicago Cubs — While Kyuji Fujikawa is being used sparingly as he builds arm strength, Neil Ramirez has picked up where he left off as a dominant late-inning option. He struck out the side in the seventh on Tuesday night before turning things over to Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Ramirez.

August 11, 2014
Chicago Cubs – Neil Ramirez was activated from the disabled list on Sunday. Ramirez was the clear set-up man before he hit the DL, though he’ll have to work his way back up before we return him to that place in our hierarchy.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Fujikawa.

August 7, 2014
Chicago Cubs — Kyuji Fujikawa was activated from the disabled list on Wednesday and entered with two men on in the sixth, with the Cubs down four. After a hit batsman loaded the bases, Fujikawa induced a double play and a fly ball to escape the jam. Although Rick Renteria has said that he intends to ease Fujikawa back into higher-leverage roles, the Cubs will need to see him pitch in big spots soon to help them decide whether they should pick up his $5.5 million option for 2015 or exercise the $500k buyout.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Fujikawa.

August 6, 2014
Chicago Cubs — Hector Rondon blew a save in the 11th inning, leaving Carlos Villanueva to nail things down in the 12th.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Strop | Schlitter.

August 1, 2014
Chicago Cubs — Lefty reliever James Russell will have a chance to pitch for a contender after he was shipped to Atlanta as the trade deadline expired. Brian Schlitter, who picked up an eighth-inning hold on Thursday, his team-leading 12th of the season, is the likely candidate to pitch in front of Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon until Kyuji Fujikawa completes his rehab stint next week.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Strop | Schlitter.

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.