Despite Kevin Gregg’s shaky first save, and even shakier first blown save, Chicago Cubs Manager Lou Piniella says there’s no controversy: Kevin Gregg is the closer.
Oh, did I mention the third “despite”: despite the fact that last night’s save opportunity went to… Carlos Marmol.
“Gregg is still our closer,” Piniella stated. “I can’t get them both up. I said that in Houston two nights ago, three nights ago. I can’t afford to get them both up because I lose them. So we got Marmol just in case we tied or went ahead, and that was the end of it. He came in and did a heck of a job.
“I said when the season started there’d be opportunities for both of them. But, believe me, tomorrow, if we get into a similar situation, Gregg will be the closer.” Daily Herald.
Piniella’s explanation is not altogether unbelievable. When Marmol got up in the pen, it was not a save situation. And it does seem silly to sit Marmol down and then get Gregg up very quickly to come in after the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 9th.
At the same time, I highly doubt Marmol 100% sees it that way.
If he saw it as an opportunity to show off his closer chops, he succeeded greatly: after giving up a one out single, Marmol struck out two of the best hitters in the National League back-to-back – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
The way the game played out underscores my persistent belief that having a “closer” is more about the offseason Benjamins than it is about winning ballgames. Kevin Gregg may remain the Cubs nominal closer throughout the year, but Marmol is going to rack up plenty of saves and is going to pitch in plenty of tight situations.
Which is why, whatever you call him, he’s still the ace of the Cubs bullpen.