Carlos Marmol: On Thin Ice?

You’ve surely heard by now, but Carlos Marmol blew the routinest of saves last night, coughing up a three-run lead against the Astros. He got a fly ball for the first out, but then came a single, a wild pitch (runner to second), another single (runner to third), a walk to load the bases, then a walk-off grand slam by Brian Bogusevic. Closers blow saves, sometimes spectacularly, but the fact that Marmol temporarily lost his job last month makes this a little more interesting.

During a three appearance span from July 8th-14th, Marmol blew two saves, allowing seven total runs in just 1.1 IP. He walked five and struck out just one, allowing three hits. Sean Marshall took over ninth inning duties for a while, and Marmol did some eighth inning work. He’d pitched pretty well since them, allowing runs in just three of 16 appearances and going a perfect 9-for-9 in save chances before last night’s disaster. It’s worth noting that he nearly blew a save against the Nationals last week, putting four guys on base and allowing a run to score after entering with a two-run lead.

Marmol’s peripherals are still very good, but his strikeout rate is back to where it was from 2007-2009. I didn’t think 15.99 K/9 was sustainable anyway. He still walks a ton of guys, but his 5.65 BB/9 this season is his best since 2008. His ground ball rate is fine as well. The velocity stuff is interesting, because Marmol’s fastball has been trending downward since the start of last year while his slider velo has crept up this year. Remember, he’s slider heavy, throwing that pitch almost 60% of the time. A slower fastball and a faster slider means less separation between the two pitches, which is generally bad news.

The x-factor here is Marmol’s contract. He inked a three-year pact worth $20M this past February, and that alone could keep him in the closer’s role for the time being. Another temporary demotion is possible, but I think Marmol is still a ways off from being permanently replaced. Keep Marshall (or even Kerry Wood) on reserve, but the end of the season is coming up and the winter has a way of giving closers a fresh start (see Jonathan Broxton this year). Marmol is far from reliable, but it seems like he’s still the guy for the time being.

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Mike writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues and baseball in general at CBS Sports.

5 Responses to “Carlos Marmol: On Thin Ice?”

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  1. Dave says:

    Mike – do you think we Marmol owners are better off just dumping him at this point? Not only has he cost me multiple wins for Dempster and Garza this season, but he keeps killing days of otherwise great ratios.

    I’m way up in the Saves category in my 10-team Roto league and am contemplating dropping Marmol and Santos for middle relievers with excellent ratios that might even Vulture some wins: Aceves, Belisle, Bastardo, Downs, even Rafael Soriano maybe. I genuinely do not need these guys Saves for the rest of the season and Wins is going to be a much closer race in my roto league.

    I would still have John Axford to give me a few extra saves.

    Is this a dumb idea? And if not, which guys would you pick up for Axford and Santos?

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    • Mike Axisa says:

      I don’t see a problem with dropping Marmol to get help in another category if you’re that far ahead in saves. Are you past the trade deadline? I’d rather trade him (or Axford or Santos) than just drop him.

      If you need wins, Aceves, Bastardo, and Soriano are the way to go.

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  2. Dave says:

    Yeah well past the trade deadline and had no one biting. I have the added perk that some teams below me will pick up Marmol/Santos for saves and take points away from my top competitor who is middle of the pack in the category. If I drop Marmol and Santos I’ll have Venters, Aceves, Bastardo, Soriano and Axford as my RPs. Gotta be some wins in there sometime in the next 6 weeks, right?

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  3. Sean says:

    Cubs aren’t playing important games anymore so might as well leave Carlos in at this point and not mess with his head, as he’s presumably got the job to start 2012 regardless.

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  4. Jon says:

    Similar boat – Adams, Bastardo or Soriano the best for Vulture wins after Aceves?

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