Remember 2007 when Ryan Dempster was the Cubs closer? Dempster blew a four-run lead against the Mets in mid-May in New York, and when the team returned home, Lou Piniella said the right-hander was switching to the rotation. Thirty minutes later, Dempster was back as the closer.
Piniella seemed more determined to make a change after Monday’s game against San DIego, which Kevin Gregg lost, giving up four runs in the ninth as the Padres rallied for a 4-1 win.
In the first half, Gregg was 3-2 with 16 saves and three blown saves in 42 games, compiling a 3.32 ERA. In 16 games in the second half, the right-hander is 1-3 with seven saves and three blown saves, and has a 7.47 ERA. He’s given up 15 runs and walked seven in 15 2/3 innings in the second half.
In eight games this month, Gregg has a 1-3 ERA with two saves, three blown saves, and an 11.25 ERA. He’s given up 10 hits and walked two in eight innings. That’s not going to get the job done.
The candidates for the job? How about John Grabow, who has been consistent since the Cubs acquired him from the Pirates July 30. In his last 18 games, he’s given up three runs on 10 hits and 12 walks while striking out 13. He has not given up a run in his last eight games, all with the Cubs, and opponents are batting .095 against him. In his career, the left-hander has six saves and 16 blown saves, scattered from 2004-09.
Carlos Marmol’s problems have been walks. In 15 games since the All-Star break, he’s walked 10 and struck out 21, giving up five runs in 14 1/3 innings. The right-hander walked 41 in 87 1/3 innings over 82 games last year, and issued 42 free passes in 46 games in the first half alone.
He did battle Gregg for the closer’s job this spring, but it was determined at that time that the Cubs would be better off keeping Marmol in his role as No. 1 set-up man. He may have the best stuff of the bullpen corps.
Angel Guzman has one save, June 7 against Cincinnati. In six games this month, the right-hander has given up two runs on six hits over nine innings, and has not walked a batter. Opponents are batting .188 off him. But he’s young, and this is his first full season in the big leagues.
We’ll find out soon enough.
— Carrie Muskat