Slam the Door
“It’s three outs. Just like the first inning.” This statement is thrown around every time the closer role is brought up. In reality, yes, those three outs in the first count just as much in the ninth. You don’t get bonus outs later in games. However, the confidence that comes with a closer that can “slam the door” permeates throughout the team.
Hector Rondon is not a household name. He doesn’t have the name recognition of a Kimbrel or Chapman (Still shocked by the Kimbrel trade and yes I do understand the argument that they traded away a one inning guy) but he can be just as good now that the Cubs are winning. At the age of 27 he’s got maturity on his side. He’s still young in service time but not a ripe youngster. He looks healthy and looks like he’s taking the role and running with it.
The game gets easy when you can spot up a 95-98 MPH fastball. Combine that with a swing and miss slider at 87 and you’ve got something special. He comes out of the pen with a “my head is on fire” look (but under control mentally) and hitters start to get a little uncomfortable in the box. If he keeps his walks down like last year and continues to keep hitters looking like they’re swinging wet newspapers I can see his name being thrown around the dinner table a little more often.
Sometimes players become closers because they’re thrown into the fire and managers keep their fingers crossed. Some make their way to the back of the bullpen because of injury. Some are born to be back there. Others are tossed back there because rules state you need a pitcher. Either way, you need a short memory, swing and miss stuff, and some dumb luck. Otherwise, Hector will be stuck getting those just as important outs in one of other eight innings.