Monday, April 22, 2024

Cubs’ Closing Situation is Finally Fixed

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The Cubs’ closer situation has been horrendous, especially Thursday night versus the Dodgers, when Michael Fulmer allowed a grand slam to James Outman that ultimately sealed the game. Cubs fans all over social media were fuming, especially with the decision David Ross made of putting Fulmer, of all people, in this situation again. The reason for the word “again” comes from earlier last week, when Fulmer fed the Dodgers a walkoff single, which were the only two runs scored by Los Angeles the entire game. Needless to say, something needs to change and the Cubs need to find a reliable, consistent closer, and fast. The good news is, the Cubs’ just called him up.

Jeremiah Estrada, Cubs’ sixth-round pick back in 2017 has spent his entire career in the minor leagues, until last year. As most fans know, the 2022 season was a lot of trial-and-error for the Cubs, when 64 different players ended up playing at some point during the season. Estrada was one of those 64, but only saw five games and five innings, allowing just two runs and six hits with eight strikeouts during the season. While those numbers left him with a 3.18 ERA, there was significant promise for his future with the club.

Following Fulmer’s blown save and him being held responsible for the Cubs’ loss on Thursday, the Cubs recalled the right-handed pitcher, and optioned Javier Assad back to AAA.

It’s possible that Estrada gets a significant amount of opportunities this season as the Cubs closing situation is quite literally nonexistent. Pitcher Keegan Thompson has been the talk of the town this season, whose had 6 appearances with 10.1 innings and just one earned run. The issue with relying on Thompson to be the closer is similar to other relief pitcher Adbert Alzolay, where they both are set-up relievers and not really a designated closer. Both Alzolay and Thompson have had their fair share of closing opportunities, and done relatively well with those innings, but it would end up being a large hole in the bullpen entirely if either were to be said closer.

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It’s definitely unfortunate how Michael Fulmer has struggled thus far, as fans were optimistic that Fulmer could turn his career around and go back to his Rookie of the Year and All-Star self, similar to the roadmap Cody Bellinger is currently on. There have only been 20 games played so far, so there is still plenty of time for improvement from Fulmer, but there’s also plenty of time to fix and eliminate the problems. Estrada will, hopefully, be the answer the Cubs are looking for. 

Estrada made his season debut following Drew Smyly’s 7.2, one-hit innings on Friday against the Dodgers. The young right-hander struck out three, walked two and did not allow a hit or a run in 1.1 innings to close out the blowout win.

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