Cubs leaving closer role undefined
Rondon, Strop, Motte all earn saves in series against Nationals
WASHINGTON -- Next time the bullpen phone rings in a save situation for Joe Maddon's Cubs, it's anybody's guess which reliever will be instructed to get up.
"How's like, 'Be ready to pitch in the last three innings'?" Maddon said after Sunday's 6-3 victory over the Nationals. "If you're keeping score, you know when the seventh, eighth and ninth is popping up. I've been through that. I think it's a product of millennials. It's that generation that needs definition consistently."
The Cubs took three of four from the Nationals this weekend and used three different pitchers to earn the saves.
Thursday, it was Hector Rondon, while Saturday belonged to Pedro Strop. Sunday, Jason Motte earned a regular-season save for the first time since 2012.
At least until next time, it's all hands on deck.
"Leading up to this point, Ronny knew when he was pitching, Stropey had a good idea and everyone else was ready when the phone rang," Motte said. "Today was today, and go out there next game and be ready to go."
Rondon had been granted the closer role until recently, when he experienced increased trouble in high-leverage situations. Saturday, he walked the first batter he faced in the bottom of the ninth and was pulled for Strop.
With a three-run lead, Rondon pitched a perfect eighth inning Sunday.
"I wanted him to get less stressful work, although it's still a three-run lead and you've got three really good hitters coming up," Maddon said. "But it's not the mental thought of the ninth inning. And he pitched. He went out there, he did exactly what we talked about. He worked on some things, and it was outstanding."