The most fluid spot on Fantasy teams is closer. Many owners feel destined every season to scramble for one or two of them after those they draft are ignominiously booted from that role in the wake of blown saves and defeats wrested from the jaws of victory.
Perhaps no team has experienced more unstable performances from their closers over the years than the Cubs. Fantasy owners have cringed at the thought of starting Cubbie closers, who have spent much of their time on the mound watching line drives rattle around Wrigley Field or soar over the ivy.
Among the most recent failures have been the enigmatic Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg and Antonio Alfonseca. This is not to imply they didn't have their strong stretches, but none proved to be permanent solutions to a problem the Cubs have experienced since the days of Randy Myers.
Well, a new contender to provide steady saves has emerged. Hector Rondon has been the hottest closer in the sport over the last two weeks. He has locked down wins in eight consecutive appearances and hasn't allowed a run in his last nine. Rondon has yielded just three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in nine innings during that stretch.
Most encouraging is that his velocity has increased with more work. Fangraphs reveals that Rondon was averaging 90 mph on his heater to start the season, but that figure has been consistently on the rise to the point of peaking at 99 in more recent appearances. Simply put, he is blowing batters away. And his control has been pinpoint - he has not walked a batter in the last 19 innings.
Will Rondon prove to be just another flash-in-the-pan out of the Cubs bullpen? Only time will tell. But he has certainly shown no signs of fading and must be considered an essential pickup-and-play for Fantasy owners seeking to improve at closer. His ownership has soared to 56 percent, but he is starting in only 48 percent of all leagues. Considering that the offensive improvement of the Cubs should result in more save opportunities down the stretch (Rondon has had eight in the last 16 days), that figure is still far too low.