Carlos Marmol Dares You to Hit Him

At age 23, Carlos Marmol made his major league début with the Cubs as a starter.  He was mostly dreadful in 2006, finishing with an ERA over 6.00.  Since then, he’s settled in as the setup man and now the closer for the Cubs and for the most part has been very good.  Since 2007, he’s averaged over 11 strikeouts per nine innings in each season, finishing in the top ten each season; this year, his strikeout numbers have been absolutely stupid.  Here’s a summary of Marmol’s rate statistics for his career, followed by his totals:

Season K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB FIP xFIP
2006 6.90 6.90 1.64 0.265 70.2% 28.9% 11.8% 6.47 6.22
2007 12.46 4.54 0.39 0.276 91.0% 31.3% 3.9% 2.72 3.67
2008 11.75 4.23 1.03 0.185 78.1% 34.6% 9.9% 3.62 3.71
2009 11.31 7.91 0.24 0.262 77.7% 35.8% 2.6% 4.06 5.13
2010 17.47 5.56 0.40 0.376 90.9% 34.3% 7.7% 2.06 2.27

Season ERA SV / BS IP TBF H HR BB IBB HBP SO H/9
2006 6.08 0 / 0 77.0 356 71 14 59 2 5 59 8.3
2007 1.43 1 / 1 69.1 285 41 3 35 3 4 96 5.3
2008 2.68 7 / 2 87.1 348 40 10 41 3 6 114 4.1
2009 3.41 15 / 4 74.0 335 43 2 65 3 12 93 5.2
2010 1.59 9 / 2 22.2 96 13 1 14 0 3 44 5.3

Marmol has always had issues throwing strikes, particularly in 2009.  He got away with it (mostly) by not allowing home runs and being a little lucky.  What really strikes me though is that with such high strikeout and walk rates, there is a lot of walking at the end of plate appearances against Marmol (either to first base or back to the dugout).

A couple of weeks ago, Dave A. noted that Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Harden lead starting pitchers in keeping the ball out of play via walks, strikeouts, and hit batters.  They had “Ball-Not-In-Play” percentages in the lows 40s.  Check out Marmol’s career, and in particular, his start to 2010:

Season Team TBF Ball-Not-In-Play
2006 Cubs 356 125 35.1%
2007 Cubs 285 138 48.4%
2008 Cubs 348 164 47.1%
2009 Cubs 335 173 51.6%
2010 Cubs 96 61 63.5%

This year he’s moving away from his fastball and moved toward his slider more and more.  He’s also throwing harder (almost a full mile per hour faster than any previous season) and batters are not making contact with anything.  Hitters are hitting only 60% of the pitches they swing at, 20% below the major league average; he also leads the league by almost 5%.

Season Team O-Contact% Z-Contact% Contact%
2006 Cubs 51.3% 84.6% 77.7%
2007 Cubs 44.9% 80.1% 67.0%
2008 Cubs 51.3% 82.5% 73.6%
2009 Cubs 52.8% 81.6% 73.0%
2010 Cubs 35.2% 71.7% 59.4%
2010 ML Average 65.6% 88.2% 80.9%

It’s easy to see from his Pitchf/x data that Marmol might not have any idea where the ball is going when he throws it.  It’s almost impossible to keep up what he’s doing, but after watching him walk a Ranger and strike three out in the 9th inning during Sunday’s game, it sure seemed to me that some good major league hitters simply don’t have much of a chance against him right now.

This article was originally published on Knuckleballs.




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2 Responses to “Carlos Marmol Dares You to Hit Him”

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  1. David says:

    Assuming Marmol can keep this up for a full season, would that K/9 be a record for a reliever? (Let’s say 50 IP min.) Billy Wagner used to be up around 15/9 when he was with Houston, but I can’t recall anyone recently who’s been higher than that.

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  2. SoxScout says:

    David, here is the leaders, K/9 and >50IP as a RP:

    Eric Gagne, 15.0, 82.1, 2003
    Billy Wagner, 15.0, 74.2, 1999
    Brad Lidge, 14.9, 94.2, 2004
    Armando Benitez, 14.8, 78.0, 1999
    Billy Wagner, 14.6, 60.0, 1998
    Billy Wagner, 14.4, 66.1, 1997
    Byung-Hyun Kim, 14.1, 70.2, 2000
    Rob Dibble, 14.1, 70.1, 1992
    Matt Mantei, 13.6, 65.1, 1999
    Rob Dibble, 13.6, 82.1, 1991

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