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Grimm adds to control concerns

5/6/2014

CHICAGO -- The tightrope Chicago Cubs reliever Justin Grimm has been walking this season snapped beneath him, as he gave up the winning runs in the 12th inning of a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.

The right-hander said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

“Keep getting behind people, walking people, it’s going to catch up,” Grimm said. “That’s the way it is. Struggles are real this month.”

In two-thirds of an inning, he gave up two runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. By comparison, Jeff Samardzija gave up the same number of walks, two fewer earned runs and just one more hit Monday ... in nine innings of work.

“Sometimes you have to experience these things so that mindset takes over, and now it’s like, ‘No one is going to get on base,’” manager Rick Renteria said of Grimm. “He has swing-and-miss stuff.”

Grimm is supposed to be part of an improved bullpen, but his command has been a problem since April -- he was simply getting out of the jams before. He's now given up 13 hits and nine walks in just 13.1 innings pitched. That’s playing with fire.

“Pitch sequence was off to some guys,” Grimm said. “Other than that, I have to stay ahead and get aggressive. When I’m not aggressive, I’m not at my best.”

Some people have mentioned Grimm as a potential closer, given that “swing-and-miss stuff.” But the Cubs have made it clear that control will be of utmost importance for anyone pitching on the back end. Cubs relievers have given up the third-most walks in the National League while throwing the fourth-fewest innings.

“The ball is a little slicker," Grimm said of pitching in the cold, "but you have to find ways to get it done."

This is the season for the Cubs to find out about Grimm and others looking to fill key relief roles -- and lack of control will hurt their chances of sticking around as part of the future of the bullpen.