Cubs Suffer Two Tough Blows
The Cubs followed Saturday night's disappointing loss with one of the agonizing variety on Sunday afternoon. The blown saves by Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol also lowered the Cubs' save conversion rate to 14 saves in 22 opportunities, or an unimpressive 64%. (Marmol's "failure," of course, was due primarily to Alfonso Soriano's work in left field, not a failing of the pitcher's.)
Before Sunday's disaster, here is how the Cubs and their designated closer stacked up to the rest of the National League and the respective teams' individual saves leaders, several of whom have already lost their "closer" tags because of ineffectiveness or injury.
Can a team win a National League pennant and convert just two-thirds of its save opps, with a closer who can only be counted on in roughly 7 of every 10 opportunities? Very recent history says yes and maybe.
||SV%|| SVs Leader
Pitching for last year's NL champs, Fuentes converted 20 of his first 22 save opportunities before he faltered at mid-season, blew four save chances in a row, and handed over the closer's job to Manny Corpas, who finished the season with 19 saves in 22 opportunities and a 2.08 ERA.
The '06 Cardinals' .667 save percentage is the same as the Cubs' was heading into play on Sunday. That placed the Cards seventh in the NL, just above the Cubs' ninth place standing so far this year. The '06 Cards, however, had the benefit of playing in an NL Central so destitute, 83 victories was enough to land them in the post-season.
It wouldn't appear that the 2008 Cubs wil find the going quite as easy.