The Chicago Cubs have a closer issue on their hands. Hector Neris has been brutal in his last three appearances, blowing two saves and allowing eight runs in total. In his last outing, he surrendered a three-run home run to Thairo Estrada that gave the San Francisco Giants a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the ninth inning.

The Cubs are 34-39 right now, good for last place in the NL Central. For a team that has made big moves over the years in the hopes of contending, they are far away from that goal, though they do have their sights set on contending more down the line. They might have a top-five starting rotation in all of baseball with Shota Imanaga, Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon and Javier Assad. But their weaknesses in other areas have left them several games under .500 midway through June. The bullpen is one of them, sporting the seventh-worst ERA among MLB ‘pens.

Cubs manager Craig Counsell came to Neris' defense after his flop against the Giants. He explained that the team has to include the veteran in its plans as they try to collect wins. Even though he could still contribute in other situations, Counsell was adamant that he doesn’t have plans of moving on from Neris.

“Look, we got a bullpen. We gotta find guys to get outs,” Counsell said when asked if he is considering a demotion in a role for Neris. “Hector has been a guy that’s been reliable for us so I wouldn't anticipate doing that. We’re gonna always examine every best way to get 27 outs every day and we’re gonna need Hector to be a part of that.”

Counsell, an experienced manager, is surely not going to light Neris up to the press after a rough stretch. But behind the scenes, the Cubs really do have to consider a change.

Neris certainly has his value as a big-league reliever but it pretty much comes in lower-leverage situations. Relying on him in tight spots, especially in the ninth inning, often leads to the bad results that the Cubs are eager to get away from. For his career, Neris has an ERA below 3.0 in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. In the ninth, it's at 4.10.

The Cubs could make a big splash ahead of the trade deadline that makes them more dangerous but, as of right now, Wrigley Field is once again unlikely to see any playoff action.