It was only in 2010 Carlos Marmol was a star closer for the Chicago Cubs.
Now, three years later, the team and its fans can’t wait for their ninth-inning roller coaster ride to be over.
If there was anyone who could have marred the team’s Opening Day win and the performance they got out of Jeff Samardzija, it was going to be Marmol, who was a glaring issue for the bullpen through most of 2012 as the team just couldn’t find anyone competent enough to close games on a regular basis.
So now, for the sake of building his trade value, the job was handed back to Marmol, and the looming sense of deja vu as he came on in the ninth inning to save a 3-0 lead against the Pittsburgh Pirates was palpable.
He starting things off well enough, getting Garrett Jones to strike out swinging on the eighth pitch of a duel. However, by the time he finally got the hook, the Pirates had scored their first run of the game and had the winning run at the plate in the form of Neil Walker, thanks for a wild pitch, a single, and a walk by the right-hander.
This is a scenario that the Cubs have seen before, and manager Dale Sveum made the right decision to mercifully removed their ninth inning man before he had the chance to finish gift-wrapping an Opening Day walk-off victory to the Pirates.
When Marmol had succeeded, it was because his stuff overcame his wildness; but, it was always the lack of control that came back to haunt him, and the story was no different today as the 30-year old tried to write a new chapter in his career.
Fortunately, the replacements were able to do the job, as James Russell and newcomer Kyuji Fujikawa completed the Cubs’ win by getting Walker and Russell Martin out. Though that should probably be the late-inning pecking order going forward, I imagine that the Cubs will play the “we still believe” card here and throw Marmol back out there in another high-leverage situation.
It is in the team’s best interest to allow Marmol to garner some trade interest, after all — I’m just not sure if there’ll be too many interested parties by the time he’s done.