Should Chicago Cubs Transition Their Star Pitching Prospect Into Closer Role?

With the Chicago Cubs searching for a reliable closer, they might look to move one of their star prospects into that role.
Feb 24, 2024; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Ben Brown (86)
Feb 24, 2024; Scottsdale, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Ben Brown (86) / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
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It has not been a great stretch of play for the Chicago Cubs recently.

They are 4-6 over their last 10 games and now sit just four clear of .500 and two back from the NL Central lead. Their offense has become a major concern, ranking sixth-worst in wRC+ with a figure of 90 since May 6 that measures weighted runs created.

Injuries to Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson certainly haven't helped, but it seems like they're going to get their Gold Glove winning shortstop back for their upcoming game on Tuesday.

In the midst of this losing stretch, the Cubs haven't had many leads in close games where they've had to rely on a closer to shut out the other team. The last time one of their relievers picked up a save was back on May 12 when the now injured Adbert Alzolay recorded a save despite being previously demoted from that role.

Chicago had turned the reins over to their offseason addition Hector Neris.

The results have been good, converting six of seven save opportunities, however, the experience has been rocky as the right-hander has allowed multiple baserunners with hits and walks, while also giving up runs.

If the Cubs are looking for another option to take over that role, then Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation thinks it should be their top prospect Ben Brown.

"... can't this guy get a look at closer. That isn't a rhetorical question, of course, because I think there's a real discussion there. Brown has closer stuff at this point, and that's not really in question," he writes.

The 24-year-old was ranked as No. 8 in their pipeline last year, and after getting called up on March 30, he's been used within their rotation and out of the bullpen. It's been a successful showing for the rookie so far with a 3.57 ERA across 11 appearances and four starts, striking out 39 over 35 1/3 innings.

Taylor points out a couple different reasons why Chicago might not want to make him their closer, though.

One, he's still unproven and it's unknown if he'd be able to appear in high leverage spots in back-to-back games. That would be a major issue for the Cubs if they can't rely one singular guy to close out their opponent.

Second, they might still be looking to use Brown as a starting pitcher down the line.

He's started 41 out of 49 games the past two seasons from the High Single-A to Triple-A levels, signaling they still view him as a future rotation piece, something he also wants to become in his career as well.

Ultimately, it just might be a waiting game for Chicago to see if Alzolay can come back and be an effective guy during the backend of games, or else they'll be dealing with Neris and his shaky innings for the foreseeable future.

Brad Wakai


Brad Wakai graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Journalism. While an undergrad, he did work at the student radio station covering different Penn State athletic programs like football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and other sports. Brad currently is the Lead Contributor for Nittany Lions Wire of Gannett Media where he continues to cover Penn State athletics. He is also a contributor at FanSided, writing about the Philadelphia 76ers for The Sixers Sense. Brad is the host of the sports podcast I Said What I Said, discussing topics across the NFL, College Football, the NBA and other sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @bwakai