NEW YORK — Jason Motte already has the resume, the hard stuff and the intimidating look with that big beard. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t want to anoint Motte as his closer yet.
Motte is starting to look more like the powerful reliever who got the final out in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series and saved 42 games for the St. Louis Cardinals the next year.
Maddon still wants to keep his options open with Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon — even after Motte notched his third save in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over the New York Mets.
“I do like him in the ninth inning based on his experience,” Maddon said Wednesday at Citi Field. “He’s unflappable. He might give it up. I don’t know if he’s going to give it up or not. But I know one thing: He’s been there before, and he’s very calm in that moment.
“The other guys have equally good stuff. Stropy’s probably got the best breaking ball of the three. Rondon is now utilizing his other stuff.
“Motte’s just pure blunt force. He’s more primal than the other two. But when it comes down to just thinking through a situation, he’s very good. He’s very self-aware in those moments.
“The answer is he’s not specifically the closer. But I do like him there.”
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This fits into Maddon’s broader bullpen philosophy, blending the data with his gut feelings, exploiting matchups and trying to find the right high-leverage moments.
“Unless you have that one guy that you can really hang your hat on, why do it?” Maddon said. “It just makes everybody’s life miserable when you don’t put the guy in the game and then all of a sudden he’s disappointed and he goes home and doesn’t sleep as well.
“I don’t want that. I just want us to win.”