4/7 What to do with Marmol
Last May, Cubs manager Dale Sveum removed Carlos Marmol as the closer, and used James Russell and Rafael Dolis. The Cubs didn’t have that many save opportunities, and Marmol then went on the disabled list May 12 with a strained hamstring. He was reinstated as the closer when he returned in late May but the Cubs told Marmol he could not shake off his catcher. It seemed to work. After compiling a 5.61 ERA in 31 games before the All-Star break last year, Marmol had a 1.52 ERA in 30 games in the second half.
In his three appearances this season, it’s been a struggle for Marmol. He’s retired four of the 13 batters he’s faced in three games. Teams are batting .600 against him, and he’s given up five runs on six hits in 10 at-bats, including the two home runs. Right-handed hitters are 5-for-5 with two walks. Marmol also has shown a pattern that scouts are probably picking up. He throws first-pitch fastballs to batters 80 percent of the time, and when he’s ahead in the count, he’ll go to his slider 75 percent of the time. If he has two strikes, he’ll also throw his slider 90.9 percent.
What are Sveum’s options? Shawn Camp is 12-for-28 in his career in save situations. He had two saves in 2012, his last one coming Aug. 26 against the Rockies in a 5-0 win.
Russell is 2-for-9 in career save opportunities, picking up both last season. He was 0-2 in save situations in 2010 and again in 2011.
By the way, this is the last year of Marmol’s three-year, $20 million contract that will pay him $9.8 million this season.
* About last night: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Justin and B.J. Upton are the first brothers in Major League history to hit a game-tying and walk-off home run in the same inning. The two brothers connected off Marmol in the ninth to give the Braves a 6-5 win over the Cubs. The Uptons are the first brothers to hit a home run in the same inning since Cal and Billy Ripken did so in 1996 with the Orioles.
“That’s what you dream about — to be on the field and have that big at-bat and to come through for your team,” Justin said. “You can’t beat that.”
— Carrie Muskat