Three weeks ago Kevin Gregg was unemployed. Then he signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs and made his way back to the majors at age 34. And now he’s their closer.
That’s been fairly obvious for a while now, as Gregg has saved five games in two weeks, but whether it’s with Gregg or Carlos Marmol before him manager Dale Sveum has repeatedly avoided actually naming a closer.
Until today, apparently. Asked by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com if Gregg is the guy, Sveum replied: “He seems to be. Gregg’s our closer. That’s pretty much the way it is right now. He’s obviously earned it and there’s a bigger sample out there now to know that.”
Of course, the true “bigger sample out there” suggests Gregg won’t do particularly well in the role long term. He has plenty of closing experience and 149 saves, but Gregg has a 4.08 career ERA that includes a 4.95 mark last year and a 4.36 mark from 2009-2012. He doesn’t get a ton of strikeouts and his control is terrible, although compared to Marmol he throws strikes like an in-his-prime Greg Maddux.
The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.
The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.
After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.
Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.
Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.