Trust — it’s tough to find. From girlfriends to college ice-breakers to Guess Who?, it’s elusive, rare and … well … untrustworthy. “Boy, I sure hope they catch me when I close my eyes and fall backwards”, is something we’ve all stupidly said to ourselves at one point when someone demands you play that dumb game. I’d get into all the questions you ask yourself about your girlfriend or boyfriend, but that’d go on for 650,000 words and half of them wouldn’t be printable. All I can really get into, and the only questions I could really pose with any credibility, are fantasy baseball questions. So, with today’s theme being trust, let’s get into a situation that nobody could view with any of it.
I pity Dale Sveum. When you have Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fuikawa and Kevin Gregg vying for a position associated with the team’s best reliever, you’re going to end up disappointed. When some teams have Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano at the back of their pen, you realize that no matter what Sveum does, the ends of his wins will be frustrating and scary. Like a girlfriend with a bad history, Sveum pretty much has to close his eyes and hope that everything turns out okay. Unlike us, who can send a furtive break-up text and cower our way out of it, Sveum is kind of stuck.
Alas, being fantasy owners, it’s our jobs to try and figure out who Sveum will blindly pick the next time the Chicago Cubs have a save opportunity. Although whoever it is trots out for that next ninth will be bad, there is value to be had from that person. So we must decide: who gets the next save chance, Marmol or Gregg? And who gets it once Fujikawa returns from the DL?
Kevin Gregg, the guy who accrued 143 saves in 176 opportunities from 2007 to 2011, is the Cubs reliever I deem most valuable. I know, I know … Gregg really isn’t a very good pitcher. He has a career 4.10 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, and a 2.04 SO/BB. He’s erratic and … I’ll use it again: untrustworthy.
There are a lot of people who argue that experience shouldn’t have an effect on whether a player is named closer, and I might agree, but that doesn’t mean a coach will. Despite his career numbers and skill-set, Gregg’s been an effective closer before. He’s never been a stud, but he did have 37 saves in 2010. With only four innings pitched this year, Gregg is as much a wildcard as Marmol’s slider, which leaves us with a lot of questions.
We must remember: Gregg is coming off a season with the Baltimore Orioles where he posted a 4.95 ERA, 1.695 WHIP, and 5.04 FIP. He was bad, worse than bad, and the worst, all at once. He’s indeed thrown four shutout innings thus far, but the small sample size renders those numbers insignificant aside from their possible influence on Sveum’s decision.
Marmol began the year with three appearances. He allowed two earned runs in two and one in the other, blew two saves and was quickly absolved of his closer responsibilities. But since his horrific start, he’s not allowed a run in nine appearances and nine innings pitched. Those numbers look pretty, but Sveum’s not overlook the continued wildness — nine K, eight BB during this scoreless stretch.
For those who think Fujikawa will retain his closer role upon his return from the DL, I highly doubt Sveum will give the ball back to a rookie returning from injury and whose closer role lasted for two innings, three earned runs, and a blown save. Sveum was wary to call him the closer before the injury, and both Gregg and Marmol have done enough to at least put Fujikawa’s retention talks to bed.
Relievers with higher save totals are more enticing to other GMs, and you can guarantee the Cubs will look to trade Marmol and all the public enmity at the trade deadline. Sveum’s stated his plan to re-establish Marmol, but did he mean this soon?
When your situation is as murky as the Cubs’, though, any slip-up in the eyes of the fans is detrimental. If Marmol gets the next save chance and blows it, the whole city of Chicago will be clamoring for Sveum’s head for not putting in Gregg — I think Sveum knows that. Get Gregg for now.