The Chicago Cubs are clearly a team selling off their assets with an eye towards the future. We’ve already seen them send Scott Feldman and Scott Hairston packing and it’s obviously only the beginning. One of the next obvious candidates to go is going to be current closer (and 2013 reclamation project) Kevin Gregg, the owner of a career best 1.78 ERA and 1.02 WHIP (career marks of 4.02 and 1.37).
It makes sense to jettison him as soon as possible before the seemingly inevitable regression, but who would step in once he’s gone? Let’s take a look:
He owns a 3.00 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, though he’s been credited with 6 blown saves on the season. Over his Major League career he is 2-for-17 and in what is considered “High Leverage” situations this season he’s allowed 8 ER (over 9.1 IP). In other words you have to wonder if he is even capable of operating in the ninth inning.
The owner of line drive rates of 21.4% and 20.2% the past two seasons, he doesn’t seem like an ideal candidate at the end of games.
None of that even factors in that he’s left-handed, just giving more reason to think that he’s not going to find himself pitching at the end of games.
He’s seen time as a starter and reliever this season, though his 2.04 ERA in 17.2 innings as a reliever is obviously highly impressive (3.81 as a starter). He also owns an 8.15 K/9, 2.55 BB/9, .308 BABIP (based on a 21.6% line drive rate) and 78.7% strand rate, so there is no reason to think that he can’t maintain these numbers.
In fact, since 2006 he has pitched 360.0 innings as a relief pitcher and owns a 3.68 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 9.00 K/9 and 3.48 BB/9. He also has a little bit of experience closing games, with 6 saves over the course of his career, as well as 54 holds.
He may want to be a starter, but he clearly has been pitching well as a reliever and likely would get the first opportunity to close once Gregg is jettisoned.
There was a time that many would’ve predicted that Strop would be the next inline in Baltimore. However he’s struggled this season, with a 6.31 ERA over 25.2 IP. There’s been a little bit of bad luck (62.2% strand rate), but he also has been hit hard (25.0% line drive rate) and continues to struggle with his control (5.61 BB/9 in ’13, 5.33 for his career). It’s hard to imagine them going down this path, given their history with Carlos Marmol.
Parker could easily be the long-term solution at the backend of the bullpen. He’s pitched well this season, with a 2.45 ERA over 14.2 IP (16 K vs. 5 BB), and was even better at Triple-A with a 2.04 ERA over 17.2 IP. He needs to get his control in order, with 10 BB at Triple-A in 2013 and 100 BB over 196.0 IP at the level for his career. That said he does have 66 career minor league saves, including 41 in 49 opportunities at Triple-A. Like Strop, he needs to get his control in order before the team trusts him full-time. He could get a brief look later in the season, to see if he can handle the role, but he needs to reduce the walks if he wants a real look.
He’s a great stash in dynasty leagues and is worth monitoring in yearly formats if you are in need of speed.
Sources – Fangraphs, mlb.com