The Cubs only made one change to their NLCS roster on Saturday, removing left-handed reliever Justin Wilson for right-hander Hector Rondon. The change doesn’t appear to be dependent on the southpaw’s postseason track record — he closed out a Game 4 loss with a scoreless ninth inning last Wednesday — but on his abysmal performance during the regular season.
Wilson, 30, started the year strong with the Tigers. He recorded 13 saves with a 2.68 ERA in 40 1/3 innings and was dealt to the Cubs at the deadline for Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes and a player to be named later. Following the trade, however, he immediately began to tank, finishing the year with a 5.09 ERA, 9.7 BB/9 and 12.7 SO/9 through 17 2/3 innings.
That, more than anything, made Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon wary of using the lefty in the upcoming Championship Series. With Jose Quintana working on one day of rest and fellow reliever Wade Davis maxed out after a 2 1/3-inning outing on Thursday, the Cubs are expected to go to the bullpen early and often as they look for an advantage over the Dodgers. In Wilson’s absence, they’ll turn to right-hander Hector Rondon, who exited the regular season with a 4.24 ERA and made seven postseason appearances for the club in 2016, earning one win and one hold with eight hits, three runs and five strikeouts over six innings.