Have you ever told a lie? Of course you have; everyone has. But have you ever told the same lie so many times that you started to believe it yourself? I’m starting to feel like that’s the case with Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum and his continuous defense of closer Carlos Marmol.
On Mar. 30, the Cubs played their final exhibition game before they open the regular season on Apr. 1. For the second consecutive time, Marmol couldn’t finish an inning. Marmol recorded just two outs before he surrendered three earned runs on two hits and one walk to the Houston Astros. Shoddy defensive play from Alberto Gonzalez and Arismendy Alcantara didn’t help his cause.
This comes just four days after Marmol made his second-to-last appearance. On Mar. 26, Marmol failed to record an out before he allowed six runs (three earned) on four hits and one walk. Marmol has walked five batters in his last 2.2 innings pitched.
Maybe Marmol is getting his bad stuff out of the way before meaningful games start. Regardless, Sveum isn’t concerned. According to Chicago Sun-Times, Sveum was satisfied with how he pitched. He claimed:
“He actually threw the ball pretty good today. His slider was really good. He got weak contact, and we just couldn’t make the plays.”
Before that, Sveum shrugged off the Mar. 26 meltdown. According to MLB.com, Sveum insisted that Marmol did what he needed to do: throw strikes. Heading into Opening Day, Marmol has walked at least one batter in each of his last four appearances.
Spring stats are misleading. However, Cubs fans have seen this inconsistency for the last few seasons. And with both of these outings coming less than one week before Opening Day, it does raise the question: will the Cubs get “Good Marmol” or “Bad Marmol?” “Good Marmol” lives on the edge. “Bad Marmol” falls off it.
The Cubs need quality ninth-inning work from whoever closes games because the bottom-half of the lineup won’t generate much offense. That will lead to some low-scoring victories. They must win those games if they’re going to maximize their win totals in 2013.
With Kyuji Fujikawa waiting in the wings, a bad April will cost Marmol his job.