best closers in Cubs history

Closing the Chapter: Best Closers in Cubs History

In baseball, the closer is a really important player with a specific job. They can either lead their team to victory or cause them to lose, and there’s no in-between. Imagine this one player standing alone on the pitcher’s mound during the most crucial moments of the game, and you know they’re about to come in when you hear their special entrance music. In essence, the closer is designed to be a memorable figure, creating an indelible mark on the canvas of baseball history. This article delves into the annals of Cubs history to celebrate the men who, with a ball in hand and a game on the line, have mastered the art of closing and etched their names into the narrative of Cubs lore.

1. Bruce Sutter – Pioneer of the Split-Finger Fastball:

When discussing the best closers in Cubs history, Bruce Sutter stands tall as a pioneer of the craft. Sutter’s tenure with the Cubs from 1976 to 1980 saw him redefine the role of the closer. Armed with a devastating split-finger fastball, Sutter dominated hitters and left an indelible mark on the Cubs’ pitching legacy. His contributions earned him the National League Cy Young Award in 1979, making him the first pitcher primarily used as a reliever to receive the honor. Sutter’s impact transcended his time with the Cubs, and his influence on the game endures.

2. Lee Smith – The Towering Presence on the Mound:

Lee Smith, a towering figure on the mound at 6 feet 6 inches, enjoyed an illustrious career that included a stint with the Chicago Cubs. Acquired by the Cubs in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1980, Smith quickly established himself as one of the premier closers in the league. His imposing presence, coupled with a blistering fastball, struck fear into opposing hitters. Smith’s time with the Cubs showcased his ability to win games consistently, and he became the franchise’s all-time leader in saves with 180, a record that stood for over two decades.

3. Randy Myers – Lefty Power in the Closer Role:

The early 1990s saw the emergence of another dominant closer in Cubs history—Randy Myers. Acquired in a mid-season trade in 1993, Myers brought a unique left-handed power to the closer role. His intimidating mound presence and devastating slider made him a force to be reckoned with. In 1993, Myers recorded a franchise-record 53 saves, solidifying his status as one of the most prolific closers in Cubs history. His impact during his brief tenure showcased the importance of a reliable closer in shaping the outcome of games.

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4. Carlos Marmol – The Strikeout Machine:

Carlos Marmol, known for his high-octane fastball and devastating slider, etched his name into Cubs history during his tenure from 2006 to 2013. Marmol’s ability to rack up strikeouts at an astonishing rate made him one of the most electrifying closers in the league. In 2010, Marmol set a single-season franchise record with 138 strikeouts as a reliever, a testament to his overpowering stuff. While Marmol’s career with the Cubs had its ups and downs, his impact on the closer role, particularly his ability to miss bats, remains a defining chapter in Cubs history.

5. Wade Davis – The Steady Hand in the Championship Run:

The Chicago Cubs’ historic 2016 World Series championship run had its fair share of memorable moments, and Wade Davis played a crucial role as the team’s closer. Acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Royals before the 2017 season, Davis seamlessly stepped into the closer role, providing stability and reliability. Davis notched 32 saves during the regular season and added four more in the postseason, including the save that secured the Cubs’ trip to the National League Championship Series. His composed demeanor and clutch performances solidified his place among the best closers in Cubs history.

6. Craig Kimbrel – The Modern-Day Fireballer:

In the contemporary era of Cubs baseball, Craig Kimbrel represents the modern-day fireballer who has embraced the closer role. Acquired mid-season in 2019, Kimbrel brought a wealth of experience and a reputation as one of the most dominant closers in the game. Armed with a blazing fastball and a devastating curveball, Kimbrel aims to add his chapter to the storied legacy of Cubs closers. While his time with the Cubs is relatively short compared to some of the franchise’s legends, Kimbrel’s impact and potential to climb the ranks of Cubs closers cannot be overlooked.

Conclusion:

Closing the chapter on the best closers in Cubs history is no easy task, as each pitcher brought unique skills, moments of brilliance, and a shared commitment to securing victories for the Chicago Cubs. From Bruce Sutter’s pioneering use of the split-finger fastball to Lee Smith’s towering presence on the mound and from Randy Myers’ left-handed power to the modern dominance of Craig Kimbrel, each closer has left an indelible mark on the franchise. As the Wrigley Field faithful continue to witness the evolution of Cubs baseball, the closer’s role remains a pivotal aspect of the team’s success. Whether it’s a save to secure a playoff berth, a crucial win in a heated divisional race, or the final out in a World Series triumph, the closers in Cubs history have shouldered the responsibility of sealing the deal and etching their names into the cherished lore of the North Side. The quest for the next Cubs closer to join this esteemed lineage is a narrative that continues to unfold, adding another layer to the rich tapestry of Chicago Cubs history.

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