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.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.
A surprising move out of Oakland: the Athletics have designated catcher Stephen Vogt for assignment.
Vogt is suffering through a bad season at the plate, hitting .217/.287/.357, so on the basis of pure performance it’s understandable that the A’s may want to part ways with the 32-year-old former All-Star. That said, Vogt is considered to be a leader in the Oakland clubhouse and is one of the last players remaining from the A’s 2013-14 playoff teams.
Catcher Bruce Maxwell has been recalled from Triple-A to take Vogt’s place on the roster. Main catching duties will belong to Josh Phegley.