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The Chicago Cubs were leading 5-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning of last night's game with the Cincinnati Reds. With de-facto closer Steve Cishek having locked down a save the night prior, it was up to the closer-by-committee approach to close out the win on Wednesday.
After a stellar outing from starter Yu Darvish, Mike Montgomery got the job done, but in unspectacular fashion, giving up two hits while recording two outs in the sixth. After that, the next four relievers that came into the game each gave up a run. Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Ryan, Carl Edwards Jr. and Brad Brach all failed to record clean innings, ultimately leading to a 6-5 walk-off win for the Reds.
While the Cubs' bullpen has done a serviceable job since closer Pedro Strop was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 8, one has to wonder how much better the team's relief corps would look with Craig Kimbrel in the fold.
With the Grade 2 left hamstring strain that Strop is dealing with, that typically means he'll be out somewhere between three and four weeks before a likely rehab assignment. And who knows what could happen to the Cubs in the standings with questions around who will get the team's next save.
While it's safe to assume that Kimbrel will wait to sign until after next month's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, imagine the difference a reliever of that caliber could make on a World Series contender like the Cubs.
The long and the short of it is that the Cubs' best option now and in the future remains taking out their checkbook and paying Kimbrel – to lock down the ninth and be the team's closer for at least the remainder of the 2019 MLB season.
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