Kevin Gregg is officially the Cubs’ closer

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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.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.