Due to a combination of a tremendous strikeout mark, a solid ERA and a nice WHIP, Carlos Marmol had a fantasy value of roughly $6 in a 12-team mixed league last year. That figures to go up substantially in 2009 as he takes over the closer’s role for the Cubs with the departure of Kerry Wood.
Some owners will be wary of Marmol, due to the fact that he hasn’t been a closer for a full season previously. Others will point to his high walk rate, while some will be scared off by his FIP, which was nearly a run higher than his actual ERA. There are also questions about his stamina, as a rough patch in June was attributed to fatigue.
Smart fantasy owners will use all of these fears to acquire Marmol cheaper than he should go in an auction or later than he should go in a draft.
While Marmol has not closed previously, he converted seven of eight save chances last year (one of his two blown saves came in the seventh inning). The walk rate is definitely a concern, but as Francisco Rodriguez has shown the last few years, a high strikeout rate can offset a poor walk rate. Most of Marmol’s poor outings came between May 31 and July 2. But whatever was bothering him then was quickly rectified. After the break he had a 1.29 ERA with 16 BB and 44 K in 35 IP.
The Cubs also have former Marlins closer Kevin Gregg and former college football star Jeff Samardzija in the bullpen. They may siphon off some saves during the year, but in 2008 Wood had 34 of the team’s 44 saves. Since the Norm Charlton–Heathcliff Slocumb fiasco in 1997, manager Lou Piniella has displayed a strong preference for one closer in his next 10 seasons at the helm. Not once in those 10 years have two relievers on a Piniella-managed team reached double digits in saves.
Wood had a $19 season in 2008 and was a top-25 pitcher overall as the Cubs closer. I might be a tad more conservative than that for Marmol, but I would expect that to be a ballpark figure of his worth in 2009.
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