The rebuilding Chicago Cubs aren’t projected to do much this season beyond make it tough for the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. One thing the Cubs do have in their favor is a few good starting pitchers with Jeff Samardzija leading the way.
On Monday, opening day in PNC Park, the Cubbies visited the Pittsburgh Pirates and Samardzija had a sparkling day on the mound holding the home team to just two hits and no runs while striking out nine hitters in eight innings of work.
The worrisome part about that game for Cubs’ manager Dale Sveun, was his closer, Carlos Marmol, who almost gave it back to Pittsburgh. That’s just one game though. It couldn’t happen like that again in less than three days.
On Thursday, the Pirates and Cubs played a businessman’s special at 12:35. With the series knotted at one game each, the Cubs sent lefty Travis Wood to the mound. The regular fourth or fifth starting pitching option for Chicago not only held his own he dominated the Pirates and excited the game with a 1-0 lead after six innings.
Two innings and three relievers later, and the score at 3-0 after the Cubs added a little insurance, Sveun called on Marmol to close it. The reliever again was shaky and allowed the Bucs back into the game with two runs on three hits and a walk before finally earning the save.
It’s a little early to make changes, but the Cubs have an option at closer with Kyuji Fujikawa. A young, patched together pitching staff that is trying to build a winning culture in the windy city, can ill afford to let games get away.
Marmol has promise and hasn’t blown any saves this young season. But another couple of close ones like these in the steel city and Sveun will have to consider making a change at closer.