6/17 Marmol is still here, but won’t close
You won’t see Carlos Marmol closing for the Cubs any more. Manager Dale Sveum said Marmol, who blew a three-run lead in the ninth on Sunday against the Mets subbing for Kevin Gregg, will be back in his role as a late inning reliever.
“[Marmol] has pitched well in the seventh and eighth, and even pitched well in some tie games in the ninth and the 10th inning, too,” Sveum said Monday. “Obviously, he’s having difficulty with the last three outs and a save. We have our closer [in Gregg] when he has his rest. [Marmol] is back in the same role he was in.”
Sunday was Marmol’s first save opportunity since April 25, when he was successful against the Marlins. The right-hander began the season as the Cubs closer but lost that job after the first week of the season when he struggled against the Braves in the opening series. Gregg was not available on Sunday after pitching four straight days.
This is the last year of Marmol’s three-year contract with the Cubs, and he’s being paid $9.8 million. Releasing him is not an option, Sveum said.
“People don’t realize [closing] is not really his job any more,” Sveum said.
The Cubs manager knows his decision to stick with Marmol after Marlon Byrd’s leadoff homer in the ninth on Sunday wasn’t well received by fans.
“That’s people prerogative,” Sveum said. “I don’t really care what people think about me. That’s part of this job to be second-guessed. There’s nothing you can do about that. Players are put in positions to perform and if they don’t, the decision making will always be second-guessed. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. If I would’ve put somebody else in who has never closed a game before and they give it up, I’d be in the same boat [hearing criticism].”
Marmol was a successful closer for the Cubs in 2010 and 2011, totaling 38 and 34 saves, respectively. But in close and late situations this year, teams are batting .308 against the right-hander, and in other situations, they’re hitting .191.
“We know that those three outs are very, very difficult to get for some reason,” Sveum said.
Who will close for the Cubs when Gregg isn’t available? One option in the current series against the Cardinals is lefty James Russell.
“This is a team you could do it against because there’s no rhyme or reason to matchups or anything,” Sveum said. “They’re so good against both right-handers and left-handers that you go to maybe your most reliable guy. This is a time where you could use Russell because there’s no real matchups here.”
— Carrie Muskat