It’s no secret that the Chicago Cubs are looking for a new closer after Kevin Gregg faltered at the end of the season. There has been a lot of talk of filling the position with ‘in house’ options with guys like Pedro Strop or Blake Parker, but neither of those guys have a lot of closing experience at the major league level. Brian Wilson, as I stated last year, would be a great addition to the Cubs, and here are a few reasons why I believe that.
So far in his career, Brian Wilson has 171 saves and has converted 87% of his his save opportunities. Strop has a career save percentage of 25% (4 saves in 16 opportunities), and Parker converted the only opportunity he got last year. If these guys are going to close at the big league level, then they will benefit from watching one of the better closers in recent years. On top of that, Wilson also has experience pitching in the postseason. The Cubs had a lot of trouble finishing games last year, especially in the second half of the season. The addition of Wilson would help turn a good number of those losses into wins.
Brian Wilson has a reputation as being a dominant closer. (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Wilson has a career ERA of 3.10. Of the 23 relievers to appear in a game for the Cubs last year, eight pitchers had an ERA lower than Wilson’s career mark. And of those eight pitchers, only three played in more than 15 games. In Wilson’s best season (2010), he had an ERA of 1.81 in 70 games. There were three Cubs relievers who had ERAs lower than that last year: Rafael Dolis (5.0 innings pitched), Alex Burnett (1.0 IP), and Zac Rosscup (6.2 IP).
I said last June that if Wilson could return to his pre-Tommy John form, then the Cubs “could have a serious late game threat out of the bullpen for years to come.” Last season with the Dodgers, “The Beard” had an ERA of 0.66 in 18 games. Along with that, he had thirteen strikeouts and only four walks. I would call that production ‘dominant.’
If that’s not a big enough sample size for you, then let’s also take a look at his postseason numbers. In six games Wilson gave up four hits while striking out eight batters. He also didn’t allow any runs to score. It’s safe to say that he is still a dominant pitcher.
There are several other reasons why Wilson would be a nice fit for the Cubs. One of those is the fact that he’s just 31 years of age. He could sign a multi-year deal, and he can be around by the time the Cubs are hoping to be one of baseball’s best teams.
He is also…a character (to put it simply). If you image search his name, you’ll find plenty of pictures of his beard, his spandex suit from the EPSY’s, and his appearance on college gameday when he wore an LSU football uniform (and played a trumpet).
Brian Wilson has shown that he is still the dominant pitcher who helped the Giants to two World Series titles. In my opinion, he would be a great addition to the Cubs. He can fill their hole in the closer role, he can mentor the young guys in the bullpen, and can entertain his teammates and fans.