Saturday, April 09, 2005

Wuetrz as a closer?

Before LaTroy Hawkins blew the ninth inning at the Wrigley Fd. Home Opener, Bruce Miles wrote this in the Friday morning Daily Herald:

Wuertz looks ready: Other than the top of the order, the biggest question concerning the Cubs is the bullpen.

The broken wrist suffered by closer Joe Borowski only raised more questions. Until Borowski gets back, LaTroy Hawkins will assume the closer’s duties, with Chad Fox and Mike Remlinger setting him up.

But how about this scenario: What if the Cubs move Hawkins into the setup role and handed the ball to Michael Wuertz in the ninth inning?

Don’t laugh.

Closers emerge at the darndest times and in the darndest places. See Borowski, Eric Gagne and Joe Nathan, just to name three.

This is no knock on Hawkins, who is one of the premier setup men in the game. It’s just that the Cubs haven’t been able to use him to set up because of Borowski’s shoulder injury last year and his broken wrist this spring.

Wuertz, 26, threw better than anyone in the Cubs’ bullpen last September, when he sported a nifty 0.77 ERA. Wuertz saved 19 games at Class AAA Iowa last year, where he perfected a changeup he uses with much effectiveness against left-handed hitters.

The kid isn’t afraid, either, and that’s half the battle when it comes to being a closer.

The Cubs ought to give it a shot.

I'd be interested in seeing the Cubs give Wuertz a shot, at least until Borowski is healthy. There is no reason to continue sending LaTroy out to fail in the ninth inning. I am not sure what the reason is, but LaTroy has never succeeded in the closer role. In both Minnesota and on the Northside Hawkins has had chances to close. He has not been able to do it. Put Hawkins in the eighth inning role and the bullpen will be stronger.

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