jose veras cubsI said earlier this week that it was too early to have the discussion about Jose Veras being yanked as closer, but that if there was another horrible outing, maybe it would be ok to have the discussion. Well, here we are.

Last night, Jose Veras came on for a two-run save, and proceeded to give up a hit, plunk two batters (one of which didn’t look like a HBP to me, but it was reviewed and upheld), throw a wild pitch (that was ruled a passed ball, but come on), and walk a guy. In the process, he’d blown his second save opportunity of the year, and looked terrifyingly ineffective in the process.

So, what does Ricky Renteria say about his closer after the game?

“Shaky outing, but he’s still our guy. It’s too early to decide anything like that.” (ESPN, CSN, Tribune) Renteria added that Veras’s “stuff is there, but I think he just gets a little excited. He starts pulling some pitches. He overthrows pitches. He just has to find his rhythm.” Not for nothing, but a closer that gets a little excited and starts overthrowing is the very definition of a guy you don’t want closing. That’s supposed to be the whole thing about closers: they don’t get excited or rattled.

Now, I sound hypercritical, but I don’t mean to be just yet. I’m not going to say RR is wrong here, but neither am I going to say he’s right. The thing about Veras’s struggles is this: it’s not like he looks good out there, and is just falling victim to some bad BABIP luck. Instead, he flashes good stuff occasionally (mostly out of the zone), and he’s otherwise throwing the ball everywhere but the catcher’s mitt. Those are the kinds of performances that make you nervous as you look ahead to planning for player roles.

On the other hand, I understand the desire, at both a managerial and organizational level, to keep Veras in the closer role. He has been very good in the past, he was signed to be the closer, and he could generate value at the trade deadline if he turns things around. You want to show confidence in your players, and, for better or worse, players really buy into these “roles.” Plus, it’s not like Pedro Strop hasn’t been without a little shake lately, too. Hector Rondon is looking mighty good, but maybe that discussion is still another rough Veras outing away.

That’s why I land on the “can’t rip the decision, but can’t applaud it either.” The Cubs committed to this guy, and it’s only April 12, and only four outings. You don’t want to be too reactionary, and you also don’t want to be too slow on the draw. Tough spot, I suppose. RR is facing a lot of those already this year.

  • MightyBear

    The A’s paid Johnson 10 mil to be their closer. He’s looked bad in three outings. Melvin stated that Johnson is not the closer but he’s going to close by committee. He thinks letting Johnson pitch earlier in games would help him get his confidence up and get him back to the way he was previously.

    I believe this is exactly how the Cubs should treat Veras. Let him pitch earlier. Let him get his command back and some confidence.

    Last night my wife made the comment “Castillo is like Crash Davis, he’s telling the hitter, I don’t know where its going. I wouldn’t dig in if I were you.” The fact that she even made a comment speaks volumes.

    • dumbledoresacubsfan


      You have to introduce some kind of change now–otherwise Veras isn’t ever going to learn to get his act together. I’m sure he knows he needs to get better–and even wants to–but if there’s no punishment to reprimand his terrible performance, what’s the big deal?

      • wv23

        This assumes you can manage performance on a baseball field like you would, say, train a dog.

        Which you can’t.

    • PejaO42

      Agree 100%. Veras clearly has no confidence in himself right now. Get him in some non-pressure situations, get his stuff working, then get him back to closing.

  • Patrick W.

    I don’t think it’s smart to leave him in that role. Just because players buy into it doesn’t mean a manager should feed that nonsense. Veras has been really bad and looked really bad. He’s not ready yet. I know we’re still far away from killing the closer role but somebody has to make the first step. I think we’re seeing Renteria learning on the job here and that’s okay but there are 25 guys on that team and more of them might be frustrated by poor closing than the one guy who would be frustrated to lose the job.

    • MightyBear

      “there are 25 guys on that team and more of them might be frustrated by poor closing than the one guy who would be frustrated to lose the job.”

      That is a great point Pat W.

  • willis

    I’m looking forward to the (hopefully soon) day when the pen is Strop, Parker, Vizcaino, Rosscup, Rondon, Grimm and I guess Veras.

  • OCCubFan

    “a closer that gets a little excited and starts overthrowing is the very definition of a guy you don’t want closing.”

    I vote to change closers to anybody-but-Veras.

  • Rebuilding

    “He has been very good in the past” – When? His FIPs over the last 4 years – 3.80, 3.87, 3.84 and 3.95. That is mediocre for a middle reliever and before last year he had never closed (at age 32), only getting the opportunity because it was well the Astros. The problem with Veras is that he is average to below for a reliever in a position he has no right being in and which 6 other teams haven’t put him in

    • Rebuilding

      He has a career 4.24 FIP and should be nowhere near anyone’s closer role

    • Funn Dave

      Wow, thanks for the stats.

  • Rebuilding

    Rotoworld: “Cubs right-handed pitching prospect Corey Black did not allow a hit while striking out three and walking two in five innings on Friday night.”

    “Black is a future reliever who has considerable effort in his delivery who has the potential to close. He is unlikely to ever make a top 100 list, but, with his career 9.2K/9 rate, he could be in Chicago before the end of 2014.”

  • Rebuilding

    No Bonifacio in the lineup today. I never imagined that would disappoint me so much

    • auggie

      I haven’t seen the Cubs lineup for today. When I was checking the matchups earlier this morning, I noticed Bonifacio didn’t have good numbers vs Wainwright whereas Barney and Valbuena did seem to hit well vs Wainwright. I was curious to see if RR would decide to sit Bonifacio. I guess my question has been answered.

  • Shawn

    Calling last night’s outing shaky is being more than kind.

  • Mreverything


    I usually agree with you on most things. But here you are a little too timid. You can’t have a reliever, let alone a closer, who doesn’t throw strikes. Do we need to see this Marmol act all over again? I don’t blame RR for saying what he said, but he should do what Melvin is doing.

  • woody

    His command has been lousy. How can you put him into a high leverage situation until he proves he has put it all together? Rondon is looking like the best of the bunch to me right now. Strop needs to develope a little more control IMO. The worst thing a closer can do is to walk batters in that situation.

  • ssckelley

    I have defended RR in his bunt decisions, his platoons, but sticking with Veras as the closer is beyond me. We have seen him make good manager decisions with the position players, going with the hot hand by playing Bonifacio over Barney and Sweeney, why can’t he do it with the closer? Rondon and Stropp should be your closers right now, they are playing well and already have a save each. Like many here have already said put Veras in non pressure situations until he gets his command back on the mound. IMO this should be a no brainer.

  • willis

    So, Rusin, who blows, is recalled, and Schlitter is sent down? I mean, don’t bring up someone that can help or anything. Parker, Ramirez and Rosscup are all dealing while Rusin is, well being Rusin. I don’t get what the hell management is doing with the pen.

    • MightyBear

      Lefty. Russell and Wright are stinking up the joint. Using Rusin as a LOOGY is definitely a good idea.

    • ssckelley

      Where are you getting this or replying to? The Cubs will be forced to make a roster move soon once Arrieta comes off the DL, I cannot imagine them bringing up Rusin right now.

      • Ivy Walls

        Cubs need a real LOOGY, and having (3) lefty’s in the pen is the best structure. Now the question is who gets displaced when Arietta comes up.

        Let us take bets:

        A) Previous unknown injury Veras (?) Russell (?), Other (?)
        B) Trade?
        C) DFA?
        D) Option?

    • Rebuilding

      Their bullpen construction over the last 3 years is the one thing you can point to that has been an utter failure. The question is why?

      • willis

        Agreed. It’s amazing.

      • Spriggs

        Yep. And everyone always thinks it looks pretty good to start the season (including me).

  • Ivy Walls

    The real question is not “IF” but “when”. Veras is not a closer, so I hope the FO and staff have a plan and not just a reaction.

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