The Cubs closer outpriced himself from what the Mets were willing to pay and is now the biggest weakness for Chicago.

Chicago Cubs v Tampa Bay RaysBelieve it or not, Hector Neris was at one point a name mentioned in offseason New York Mets rumors as a player the team might pursue. Once the salary went to $9 million for this season with a team option that could become a player option for the same in 2025, it was clear the Mets weren’t going to pay. Instead, it was the Chicago Cubs who paid the longtime Mets rival from his days with the Philadelphia Phillies to become their closer.

When the two played each other last, Neris was a bit fresh to the closer spot. He didn’t get his first ninth inning save opportunity until April 20th. He’d lock in his fourth and fifth of the year for the Cubs against the Mets in their two victories. He even pitched a third time in the four game series.

Until recently, Neris was pitching well. His 6-0 record and 9 saves with a 2.63 ERA after a game on June 9 had the Cubs feeling confident with their closer. Then came the last three games.

Hector Neris has assured the Mets they are better without him on the roster or payrollChicago Cubs v Tampa Bay Rays

The train has come off the rails. In two of his last three outings, Neris has blown and lost games for the Cubs. He saved a game in between those two outings but gave up a home run and narrowly escaped in a performance that included 2 hits, a walk, and a 4-3 Cubs win over the Tampa Bay Rays. He had already blown the game a day prior when he allowed 4 earned runs. His last time on the mound against the San Francisco Giants wasn’t any better. They’d score 3 runs (2 earned) against him in yet another miserable outing.

Oddly, Neris would’ve fit right in with some members of the Mets bullpen. Walks have been detrimental to his season. A rate of 6.8 per 9 along with the recent home run surge is one of the big reasons why Chicago has slipped out of a Wild Card spot.

Mets fans know what it’s like to lose confidence in the closer. Edwin Diaz unbelievably shrunk on the mound for a brief period this season. Since returning from the IL, the confidence from and in him seems fully back. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they’re on the other side of that rebuilt confidence.

If the Mets had signed Neris in the offseason, he wouldn’t be the closer so maybe those recent implosions don’t happen. There is a certain type of guts you need to pitch the ninth inning well in Major League Baseball. The mojo can disappear in a flash like it did for Diaz and has now done so for Neris.

As amazing as the Cubs starting staff has been, their bullpen has been shaky. Perhaps no one has been less reliable of late than Neris.

The Mets and Cubs have similar records and yet their strengths and weaknesses couldn’t be much different. Have confidence in the Mets if this becomes a battle of bullpens. Stress yourself out if the Cubs starter comes out for the eighth. But if the lead is close enough, have enough belief Neris will implode again.

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