CHICAGO -- If you’ve been wondering why the Chicago Cubs continue to pitch -- or even employ -- reliever Carlos Marmol there are probably 9.8 million reasons. That’s the amount of money he’s making this season so releasing him seems like a longshot. He’ll collect that money whether he’s sitting in the Cubs bullpen or on his couch. Sending him to the minors really isn't an option either as he has to agree to the move.
Marmol is 2-2 with a 5.68 ERA but that only tells half the story of his ineffectiveness. In 12.2 innings pitched he’s given up 11 hits and 12 walks while hitting three batters, making his 1.82 WHIP the 17th worst among relief pitchers (160) who have thrown in at least 10 games.
When asked before the Cubs played the Texas Rangers on Monday night why Marmol continues to get chances, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn’t offer up any kind of explanation.
"Carlos has had a really long track record of success here,” he responded. “I think he has a number of more appearances than any other pitcher in baseball over the last four or five years. This team has expected a lot out of him for a number of years and ridden him really hard over the last few years. Some of that has probably taken its toll. His fastball and slider aren’t what they used to be but in part that because he’s been really durable and ridden hard by a number of managers here. He had a really good second half last year, heck he threw well (Sunday).
"He has struggled in his save appearances, it has been frustrating but I do think he’s a lightning rod and people forget sometimes how much he’s pitched here and how well he’s pitched at times here and kind of just focus on his failures in those save situations so far this year.”
Analysis: That really doesn’t explain why Marmol is pitching so much as why he’s been bad. Maybe he has been used too much over the years but even if everything Hoyer said is true it doesn’t mean the Cubs should continue to trot him out there. His trade value is nearly dead but their hope is it’s a long season and he resuscitates himself as he did last year.
If releasing him isn’t an option then burying him on the bullpen bench certainly is. Manager Dale Sveum is right when he said recently Marmol is one of seven relievers the Cubs employ and they all have to play. But Marmol should be treated as No. 7 and pitch accordingly.