In a game where he set the club record for career appearances at 453, Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol took the loss on Saturday. He did not record an out, gave up three runs and walked two batters against the Cincinnati Reds. This is becoming a very rough season for Marmol and the question has to be asked, should the Cubs get rid of their erratic former closer?
When he is on, Marmol is nearly unhittable. He has been pretty good recently, not allowing a run in his past 10 appearances before last night (I could not believe it either, but check it out for yourself), even though he was not allowing runs, he has still been walking way too many batters. Marmol is almost inarguably the most inconsistent pitcher in Major League Baseball. His walk rate is a staggering 9.3 per 9 innings and his strikeout rate is career low (by a wide margin) 8.5 per nine innings. In years past, the Cubs could live with the high walk rate, because he would strike out an extreme number of batters. But now those strikeouts are becoming few and far between and he is being hit harder than ever.
When you have a pitcher that has always walked a lot of batters and now is getting hit hard as well, you simply have a problem. ”He’s not executing,” manager Dale Sveum said after the debacle yesterday “He’s not throwing the ball over the plate. It doesn’t matter what pitch is called. He’ll be pitching in roles with the game on the line, early in the game, or whatever. One way or the other, he’s got to get fixed. I don’t even know if he threw a strike today. There were a couple swings, but I don’t know if they were strikes. One way or the other, we have to get him fixed, because he’s got to pitch.”
Sveum is saying now that Marmol needs to get it straighten out because he needs him to pitch, but how much longer will that last? How much longer can Sveum really keep trotting Marmol out there as he continues to walk everyone and get shelled on a more consistent basis? That remains to be seen, but what options do the Cubs really have? He does have one minor league option remaining, so technically the Cubs could try to send him to the minors in hopes that he gets back on track, but Marmol would have to agree to the minor league assignment, and would that really help anything out? I think you are playing with fire there, if he gets sent to AAA you might mess with his head too much after being in the majors for so long. He has almost zero trade value but maybe there is a team out there that will take a chance if the Cubs eat a large portion of his contract.
For right now, I think Sveum should try to get Marmol in situations with as little pressure as possible. Such as games where the Cubs lead or trail by at least 4 runs and trot him out for an inning in the 5th or 6th, just to build his confidence. It will be interesting to see if the once dominant closer can turn things around. One thing is for sure, he should be on a short leash, if things continue to be bad, then a move has to be made.