Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum made the right call -- an easy one -- when he announced James Russell and Shawn Camp would close games while Kyuji Fujikawa is on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. It allows Carlos Marmol to continue to work in less pressure-filled situations, as he’s done his past two outings.
“I don’t think I’ll use Marmol right now,” Sveum said on Saturday. “Right now, I want to keep him in the role we talked about a few days ago.”
Is it a coincidence Marmol has given up nothing on the scoreboard in his two appearances that did not occur in the ninth inning this week?
But more than likely, pitching in any other inning is giving him a chance to relax. Even coming into a tight 3-3 game in the 8th inning, as he did on Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers, isn’t the pressure of the ninth inning. Hitters and pitchers alike have been talking about how different those last three outs are.
“The thing that’s different is the adrenaline,” new part-time closer Russell said. “There’s just a big aura around the last three outs.”
Russell saved two games last season after Marmol lost his job early in the season, so he feels comfortable doing it.
“The crowd lets you know you’re close to the game being over,” he said. “You get more juices going. You have to look at it as another inning.”
But we all know it’s not just another inning. David DeJesus has talked about hitters “locking in” knowing it’s the final chance for their team, while Sveum is under the belief that the tying run always gets to the plate -- unless a Mariano Rivera is on the mound -- in those save situations. It just does.
In any case, Russell and Camp were under consideration for the closer’s role when Marmol was demoted in the first place. With Fujikawa out, it makes sense to go to them. For those wanting Marmol’s trade value to increase, there is plenty of time for that. Let him earn the job back, just as he did last season, then maybe he’ll save some games this summer and the Cubs will still get something for him in a trade by July 31.
At least that’s the plan, right?