Prior to Wednesday’s finale against the Cardinals, Dale Sveum officially announced that Kevin Gregg is the Cubs’ closer, even when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the DL on Friday. The Cubs bullpen has struggled all season, and did once again on Wednesday. While Gregg is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities since he started closing games, the rest of the bullpen has blown nine leads late in games. The Cubs’ pen this season is 9-for-18 in save opportunities.
Kyuji Fujikawa completed his second rehab outing on Wednesday. Fujikawa ended up throwing two innings out of the Smokies’ pen after needing just six pitches to retire the side in order in his first inning of work. Fujikawa is scheduled to remain with the Smokies and complete a workout on Thursday prior to catching up with the Cubs in D.C. for Friday’s opener against the Nationals.
The Cubs signed Kevin Gregg to a minor league contract on April 14 after he was released by the Dodgers. Gregg was expected to report to Triple-A Iowa after working out at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa. The Cubs purchased Gregg’s contract from Iowa two days later (April 16) and added him to the bullpen mix.
Gregg has been surprisingly effective in a short time with the Cubs. In nine games, Gregg has not allowed a run, surrendered three hits and four walks to go along with 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings (0.00 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP) while reportedly providing a calming influence in the pen.
Kevin Gregg is expected to remain the team’s closer when Kyuji Fujikawa returns on Friday. Fujikawa will be used in the eighth inning when he is activated.
Kyuji Fujikawa reportedly did not feel any pain after his outing with the Smokies on Wednesday. Fujikawa threw a total of 16 pitches, 10 for strikes, in two innings and faced the minimum. Fujikawa surrendered a leadoff single in his second inning of work but picked the runner off first base. Fujikawa’s final line: 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 2 fly ball outs, 2 groundouts.
Rafael Dolis appears to be the odd man out of the pen when Fujikawa comes off the disabled list.