CINCINNATI -- When a team has only had six save opportunities through most of the first month of the season, it's fair to assume closer options aren't first and foremost on the mind of a manager guiding a struggling team.
But Cubs skipper Rick Renteria, while not having to do too much strategizing regarding the ninth inning, has had reason to be optimistic about some of his late-game options in the 'pen.
He was asked specifically about Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon, who each have earned one of the two Cubs saves this season. Rondon has been especially impressive in the early stages of the season, having allowed two runs (one earned) over 12 1/3 innings. He's walked four, fanned 14 and has a 0.73 ERA. His lone save occurred on April 11 in St. Louis.
Strop earned his save during the opening series in Pittsburgh on April 3. So far this year he has a 3.48 ERA over 12 games, spanning 10 1/3 innings. He's had two scoreless outings since allowing four runs (one earned) to the Diamondbacks on April 23.
"We'll continue to watch how we use them," Renteria said. "They're both capable, obviously.
"The ninth inning, no matter what the score is, is not an easy inning to close out. [Rondon has] shown some calmness; so has [Strop] and some of the other guys in terms of their makeup. I'm sure that -- until they continue to get into those particular situations, over an extended period of time -- will actually determine how we view them or what we think they can or cannot do."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.