The Chicago Cubs have a core nucleus of young players, which will bring success for years to come. One of them was closer Hector Rondon, who was a top-10 closer last season.
The Chicago Cubs surprised a lot of people by being as competitive as they were in 2015. The team had a lot of young players that were either supposed to still be in the minors or not be as good as they were. The Cubs also had some veteran presence with a Cy Young pitcher and superstar first baseman. The team won 97 games, the most since 2008 which was their last playoff appearance.
One of the key pieces to this team was closer Hector Rondon and his successful season. He has the potential to repeat it this season.
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Rondon had a stint with the Cubs in 2013, playing in 45 games. He finished with a 2-1 record, 4.77 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 44 strikeouts. As a middle reliever, he was good but wasn’t looked at as the reliever he came to be in the next two seasons.
With struggles to closer Jose Veras early in the season, Hector Rondon took over the job. In 64 games, he went 4-4 with a 2.42 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 63 strikeouts. He recorded 29 saves in 33 opportunities. He recorded 15 saves in his final 19 appearances. As a result, he was the 20th closer drafted in 2015 fantasy drafts and for good reason.
He finished the season as the eighth-best closer and 58th overall on the Player Rater. He went 6-4 with a 1.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 69 strikeouts and 30 saves. There were four other closers that recorded at least three saves, but Rondon was the go-to guy in the second half of the season.
Hector Rondon struggled early, 3.22 ERA, nine saves and three blown saves in his first 22 games. For the rest of the season, he had 21 saves in 22 chances with a 0.94 ERA and .190 opposing batting average. His ground ball rate rose and fly ball rate dropped once May hit. He had a 57.1 ground ball rate and a 21.4 fly ball rate in August and 61.1 and 25.0 in September.
The improvements he made between May and August show that Rondon is a top closer in the game. He is willing to fix his mechanics in order to do what needs to be done. If he can carry his second-half performance over to the beginning of this season, the sky is the limit for him.
The closer position is filled with a lot of talent. You still have your top three or four names, but the rest can be moved around. With the improved starting rotation and offense, Hector Rondon will have more opportunities at saves. With a decline to some of the older closers and a rise in saves and the ratio stats, Rondon could easily move into the top five. I am not a fan of drafting a closer before round eight because you can find saves late, with Rondon being one of them.
Projections: 4-4, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 64 strikeouts, 36 saves
Draft: Round 12