hector rondon cubsBefore I saw any quotes on the matter, I’d decided to write a post about reliever Hector Rondon’s recent success. Meta confession: although the title is usually the last thing I write for a post, sometimes I come up with the title before I actually write anything out. In this instance, I’d decided to go with what you see above.

After starting work on the post, what do I find? Dale Sveum beat me to the damn punch.

“He’s not that Rule 5 guy anymore,” Sveum told the Tribune. Bah. I’m sticking with my title.

In any event, Rondon has looked mighty good of late. After looking for months like a mere roster stash, Rondon’s velocity has ticked up into the mid-90s, and his control has improved dramatically.

In turn, his numbers have improved.

In seven September innings – *flashes small sample size AND September warning lights* – Rondon has walked just one batter, while striking out six. He hasn’t given up an earned run, and batters have a mere .139 OPS (yes, OPS) against him.

You can see his improvement in the monthly FIP trend (April through September): 5.47, 5.83, 5.47, 4.31, 3.68, 1.76. That improvement, which tracks a general improvement in his walk rate, K rate, and overall performance, can also be seen in its simplest form. A chart from FanGraphs depicting his fastball velocity this year:

I don’t think you need me to explain what’s going on there. It’s a steady climb from the low-90s to the mid-90s. Heck, you could even label the most recent stretch as “upper-90s,” and I wouldn’t think it unreasonable.

It’s important to remember with Rondon: he was a Rule 5 guy only because of his arm injuries (Tommy John in 2010, elbow fracture in 2011), and he’s only just now getting his first taste of the big leagues at age 25 because of those injuries. With health, there was always reason to believe he had the talent to succeed in the bigs.

(Bonuses: He’s got a Twitter fan club, and I can’t help but hear his name as Gus Fring would say it while talking to wheelchair-bound cartel heavyweight Hector Salamanca.)

  • Jon

    Parker, rondon, strop.. Could be solid back end

    Where is our lefty?

    • http://Bleachernation Jay

      Rosscup & (a rested) Russell.

    • Featherstone


      • willis

        I hope Russel and Rosscup are both in the pen next season. Keeps some pressure and wear off of Russell and Rosscup has very good stuff.

        As far as Rondon, I’m not sold yet. He’s improving but I think there are better options for a 6th or 7th guy in the pen next season. If he’s still lights out come Spring it will be welcomed and he could earn a job there.

  • Rizzovoir Dog


  • jon

    wouldn’t it be nice to have two ‘Rondons’ in the organization at this time next year :)

    • Featherstone

      I imagine you’re thinking of Carlos Rodon out of North Carolina. Close, but not quite.

    • Blublud

      That would be Rodon. I’m a WolfPack fan, so that would be swell.

      • http://www.backingthepack.com Rynomite

        That’s gotta be Cubbie blue blood and not Carolina blue…thank goodness!

        Unfortunately it’s probably going to take the #1 pick to add Los to the Cubs. At least Houston is not in the NL central anymore.

        • Blublud

          Wolfpack wear black and red. I’m definitely not a UNCheat Fartheel fan.

    • C. Steadman

      I’d love Rodon but cant shake the feeling he’ll be off the board by #4…I will bet the Cubs take a pitcher in Rnd 1 for sure this draft…almost positive

  • Kyle

    That’s a really nice little coup for them if he can sustain it into MLB success in the next year or two.

    They’ve done an amazing job with developing and acquiring pitching depth this year. It’s like night and day from a year ago at this time.

  • Vince

    If they don’t take a pitcher I want that catcher.

  • http://Bleachernation Oliver

    I believe we should concentrate on hitters.

    Our pitching is adequate , but can’t win if you don’t score.

    • On The Farm

      You don’t draft on need, you draft best available. As of right now, next year looks like a pitcher top heavy draft so if one of them is available (whether it be Rodon, Beede, Hoffman, or whoever) you take them.

      • Vince

        You draft who you believe is best available which could still be a hitter.

        • On The Farm

          I never said a pitcher WILL be the best available. I said as of right now (meaning I know a lot can change between now and June) pitching looks to the best available option. Oliver suggested we concentrate on hitters, which is something that you maybe do after the first few round. But with the big money picks you take who ever is available. All I was saying is we shouldn’t concentrate on what position they play with our first pick.

          • Vince

            Right, I agree.

      • C. Steadman

        this draft is looking stacked though…the only hitter i could see the Cubs taking is the SS from NC State…i heard he has plus speed and plus defense with a good bat and not too much power but that its a potential as well

        • On The Farm

          Or Alex Jackson, I think that’s his name, if he can truly stick at catcher he should be a high pick.

          • Vince

            Yea that is the catcher I was talking about. It looks like a pretty good draft.

            • rockin’ dawg

              A top 3 SP or the #1 Catcher? I can live with either of those scenarios.

        • Blublud

          You talking about Trea Turner. Guy is a burner, and I know I’m biased as a Wolfpack fan, but he is the best returning player in college baseball. If they play to form, NC State should have the top 2 picks in next years draft.

          • C. Steadman

            yeah I’m interested to watch ur WolfPack come CWS time…and maybe even before if they play on ESPN3

  • Vince

    I believe that is Trea Turner.

    • Vince

      Meant to reply to Steadman

    • C. Steadman

      yeah thats his name!

    • Blublud

      Well, beat me to it.

  • Internet Random

    “I can’t help but hear his name as Gus Fring would say it while talking to wheelchair-bound cartel heavyweight Hector Salamanca.”


    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “I need you to get these three outs, Hectorrrrrrr.”

      • fromthemitten

        I give that 4 out of 5 dings

  • Stu

    They’ve done a great job with acquiring scrap heap pitchers with upside potential.

  • WI Jeff

    Talking about back end rotation guys…. do you have any thoughts/odds that Daniel Bard can reclaim his mojo and find success he experienced two years ago with Boston. He would is a niece piece in the Cubs Pen…..

    • C. Steadman

      he has a bad case of the yips

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    Rondon, Parker, Strop, Russell… there is the making of a heckuva bullpen. But my excitement is quite tempered. I remember being excited about Shawn Camp going into this season. Bullpen depth is important (and we seem to be getting some). Still, it’s going to take a collection of career years and no injuries to make next year anything more than another rebuilding year.

    • http://Bleachernation Jay

      You should be far more excited about these youngsters than Shawn Camp. Actually, it was hard for me to believe that he had the success that he did last year.

  • cjdubbya

    Hell YEAH Rondon has a fan club on Twitter. #RondonFanClub

  • Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

    Question: were there any major standout Rule 5 draft picks this season? Hector is a solid bullpen arm but I’m curious if someone found a diamond in the rough the rule 5 draft

  • David

    Here’s my rough draft view, as of now, of the April 2014 pen:

    Locks (3/4): Strop, Russell, Parker, Carlos Villanueva (could certainly see him being traded)

    RHRP competition: Jake Arrieta, Chang Yong Lim, Daniel Bard, Alberto Cabrera, Armando Rivero, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon, Ardoys Vizcaino

    LHRP competition (likely one will make it): Rosscup, Rusin, Raley

    And I’m sure I forgot about someone. We’re overflowing with interesting and already productive arms and we could still add some NRIs or acquire someone in trade. I really don’t see a guaranteed free agent signing unless one of Strop/Parker/Russell is traded. With Grimm, Rusin, and Hendricks all slotted for the Iowa rotation it seems like Villanueva could be expandable, although I love having him in the pen. Arrieta is probably going to make the team in some capacity, and I’m starting to think he may be the fifth starter with Rusin being the number 6 guy in Iowa. Rosscup seems like the guy if they want a second lefty.

    It should be one hell of a bullpen/5th starter competition next March. The bullpen is by far the thing I’m most confident in going into next year.

  • #1lahairfan

    Remember, he’s actually a starter. So it will be exiting to see how he does when he get’s comfortable in that role again.

  • #1lahairfan

    Rondon won’t be in the pen next here guys. He’ll be back in the minors stretching back out into a starter one last time. If that doesn’t work he ends up in the pen.

    • Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

      I’m pretty sure hector Rondon will remain in the bullpen next year even if it is in the minors. I don’t think they’ll try and convert him

      • #1lahairfan

        There’s more upside in trying him out as a starter first. A bullpen role is what he has to fall back on.

        • David

          Not that simple. Especially considering his injury history, I seriously doubt he is moved back to SP.

  • Pingback: Rule 5 Success Story and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()