Wild Marmol

Carlos Marmol is a fun pitcher to watch. He whips the ball out from a sidearm motion from the stretch in such a way that it makes his 94 MPH fastball appear to rise as it approaches home plate. The pitch also has a considerable amount of tail. To compliment his fastball, Marmol throws a ‘slurvy’ slider that features some serious sweep. Marmol also hides the ball very well, which gives him some deception. This deadly combination makes him extremely tough to hit, as evidenced by his career hit per nine innings rate of 5.8.

The problem with Marmol is that he is his own worst enemy. For his career, his BB/9 rate is 4.76, but Marmol has now entered into “Wild Thing” Mitch Williams territory this season. Last night was classic Marmol. He entered into the game in the 9th inning with a seven run lead. He walked the first three batters he faced, allowed a run on a force out, struck out the next batter, gave up a double and then struck out the next batter to end the game.

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The off the charts walk rate is probably an over the top illustration. Marmol has 55 walks in 59.1 innings pitch, to go along with a 11 hit batters. A quarter of the batters Marmol has faced this season, Marmol has put on base via either the walk or the hit by pitch. As often as Marmol’s putting batters on, he’s striking them out. 26% of the batters he’s faced this season have gone down on strikes. The young Dominican has recently assumed the role as the Cubs closer, as Kevin Gregg has suffered with the long ball this season, and the Cubs don’t feel rookie Angel Guzman is quite ready yet.

So what kind of rarefied territory is Marmol walking in? Pretty rare, definitely Mitch Williams type of stuff. There have been five seasons, including Marmol’s, where a reliever has struck out at least an average of a batter per inning, walked 7 per nine and hit at least five batters in a season.

With the help of Baseball Reference’s Play Index, we find those seasons are:

1987 Mitch Williams 108.2 IP, 10.7 K/9, 7.8 BB/9, 7 HBP,ERA+ 140
2008 Dennis Sarfate 79.2 IP, 9.7 K/9, 7 BB/9, 7 HBP, ERA+ 95
1962 Ryne Duren 71.1 IP, 9.3 K/9, 7.2 BB/9, 6 HBP, ERA+ 87
2009 Carlos Marmol 59.1 IP, 10.8 K/9, 8.3 BB/9, 11 HBP, ERA+ 121
1960 Ryne Duren 49 IP, 12.3 K/9, 9 BB/9, 7 HBP, ERA+ 72

I encourage you to read up on the life and times of Ryne Duren, who basically was Rick Vaughn. His wildness knew no bounds, stories have it that in the minors he hit a batter while he was on deck. His control was that rough. With a 95 MPH fastball and coke-bottle glasses, Duren would take a long time squinting in order to read signs from the catcher, and that would make batters just about wet themselves. Duren’s also known for overcoming a tough bout with alcoholism.

Anyway, it’s interesting and sort of amusing that only Williams and Marmol managed to have above average ERA’s with these sort of rates. Carlos Marmol, Algo Salvaje.




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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.


8 Responses to “Wild Marmol”

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  1. Jamie says:

    last night on MLBN they showed JP Howell giving up a homerun to Rod Barajas. they showed it because howell falls onto his glove when he pitches(like mitch). they added in a “all they needed was rod to jump around first base!”

    kinda incredible that mitch had a 140 ERA+ that year.

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  2. Basil Ganglia says:

    I remember Ryne Duren (that, of course, assures readers that I am part of the “older generation”). When he took the mound he routinely threw warmup fastballs into the backstop when he took the mound, but many suspected he did that deliberately to make the batters nervous.

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  3. Bill says:

    Marmol is leading the league in hit batters as a reliever. It’s pretty impressive.

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  4. TOLAXOR says:

    FROM WIKIPEDIA:

    Duren’s nephew is singer Blackie Lawless (born Steven Duren on September 4, 1956 in Staten Island, New York) of the heavy metal band W.A.S.P..

    STRANGER THAN FICTION, STRANGER THAN FICTION…

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  5. DPappy says:

    Not to nitpick, but Angel Guzman is far from a rookie. His rookie season was 2006 when he started 10 games and logged over 50 innings pitched. Prior to that year and virtually every year since, he’s battled arm and shoulder injuries.

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  6. james wilson says:

    If Duren overcame alcoholism, it wasn’t on the days he pitched. All that squinting wasn’t because of nearsightedness.

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  7. jim baumohl says:

    i’ve been tracking the magnificent marmol all season and he’s in some select company. duren and williams are the obvious ones, but if you calculate a ratio of hit batsmen plus walks to hits — a sloppy measure of wildness combined with unhittability — he’s over 2.0. that’s in a league with rex barney, scott williamson (’04 red sox), dick welk, and a few others. the major difference is that he’s pitched a lot of innings.

    however, the interesting thing here, as suggested by my friend stan hock, is how marmol brings kid pitch to the major leagues. you will, of course, recognize the phenomenon that occurs at about age 10 when kids begin to pitch to each other: no one hits the ball: it’s all strikeouts, walks, and hit batsmen. i haven’t tried to think up a kid pitch measure and apply it historically — maybe for the hot stove league this winter — but i’ll bet he’s the all-time champ, duren and mitch notwithstanding.

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