One of the many bright spots from last year was Hector Rondon, a guy the Cubs essentially got for free (rule 5 draft pick). There was some speculation heading into camp that newly acquired reliever Jason Motte would challenge the incumbent Rondon for the spot, not a chance Maddon says. “He did close last year, didn’t he?” Maddon said “I ended my sentence.” Maddon had more sentences, “Mr. Rondon looks like he’s going to be pretty darn good here, but from my perspective, it’s about high leverage situations. I like to be able to match up. Matchups aren’t necessarily left on left or right on right. Today’s game presents a lot of reverse split-pitchers or neutral guys.
That’s a typical Joe Maddon quote. Match ups, different situations, who has been good, who hasn’t, Joe Maddon 101. I do like hearing that Maddon is committing, as much as he can, to Rondon right off the bat, leave nothing to the imagination and get it out of the way early. There really is no good reason not to, Rondon has absolutely earned the chance to close this upcoming season. Last year saw Rondon explode onto the scene as the Cubs closer, he appeared in 64 games and registered 29 saves. Rondon’s command was outstanding and his velocity was reaching high nineties late in the season as he seemed to get stronger. The 26-year-old had a 4.20 K/BB ratio while sporting a tasty 2.26 FIP, and a 1.5 fWAR, if he comes anywhere close to those numbers this year….yikes.
I think other guys will get chances this year, maybe more so than usual but that’s just Joe Maddon, right now there is no mistaking who the 9th inning guy is.