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Carlos Marmol And The Cubs Closer Situation

After Carlos Marmol‘s three walk, -.701 WPA outing against the Reds one week ago, he was removed from the closer spot in Chicago, but the Cubs have yet to state whether James Russell or Rafael Dolis will close games in Marmol’s absence.

Marmol set-up for Russell two days ago against the Braves, with Russell coming in during the ninth after the Cubs had already extended their lead, making it a non-save situation. Dolis has two saves, but I think Marmol gets his job back rather soon. While you certainly want your closers to have good peripherals and a solid lock on the closer spot, I don’t think it is time to cut bait with Marmol just yet.

Dolis is owner of 19.2 career Major League innings and has a strikeout-to-walk rate of 0.67. To say that is poor is an understatement. He has better control than Marmol, which does not say much, with none of the strikeout potential. I would be extremely surprised if Dolis held onto the closer spot long term. Even his walk rate in double-A last year was just 1.37, as he struck out fewer than 6 batters per nine and walked over 4.3.

Russell may be the best pitcher of the three, but he is currently the only left-handed reliever in the bullpen. The mix-and-match approach to the closer situation could actually work out well for the Cubs, but I suspect they need Russell in matchup situations more so than in save situations. He also has shown no ability to get right-handed hitters out in his 128 Major League innings. His wOBA against right-handed hitters is .378 while it is just .292 against lefties, which includes a 56-6 strikeout-to-walk rate.

Everyone knows what Marmol will do. His outing against the Braves two nights ago was a vintage no-run outing for Marmol. He walked the first two batters, allowed a line drive from Freddie Freeman that was caught by Starlin Castro, threw a wild pitch on a steal attempt to allow both runners — including the tying run — to move into scoring position. To cap the inning off, he struck out Brian McCann and Dan Uggla.

Marmol may be wild, and he would likely not even be a late-inning guy in a good bullpen. That is not what the Cubs have though, as the Cub bullpen has the 5th worst FIP in all of baseball. Marmol, unfortunately for Cubs fans, is likely the best option of the potential bunch. With a few good outings, he will likely get his spot back. If you are looking to “buy low” you can likely trade for Marmol for relative peanuts or grab him from the waiver wire. You can even store him on your bench until he is re-named closer, which in my mind, is inevitable.