CINCINNATI - With closer Kevin Gregg into his third month of up-and-down results, and Carlos Marmol in the longest command slump of his relief career, is it time for a shakeup at the end of the Cubs' bullpen?
If so, is Angel Guzman the solution? The ninth inning looked like a good fit tonight -- albeit in a tie game and despite that two-out single.
Guzman, the Cubs' top reliever so far, already has been promoted to a seventh-inning role and has responded by pitching nothing but shutout appearances for the past month.
After tonight, he's at 2-0 with a 2.36 ERA and has the fewest walks (eight) of any pitcher who has been on the team all season, along with 23 Ks in 26 2/3 innings.
Manager Lou Piniella says he's keeping the power-pitching Guzman where is is for now, given how well Guzman has fit that role so far.
But what about down the road, even in the near future - even the closer role? It was something the Cubs considered as recently as two years ago when they toyed with moving Ryan Dempster from closer to the rotation early in the season.
``Right now, to tell you the truth, I'm just thinking about pitching in the seventh inning and getting three outs,'' said Guzman. ``I don't want to think about the future. It's all the present, and that's why I'm being successful right now. I try to get the things down I have to get done now, and in the future, whatever I'm going to be will be because of what is happening right now.''
Then he smiled and added, ``But it's a possibility that I like.''