Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Chicago Cubs [Print without images]

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Cubs' Dolis can forget about save mark

By Doug Padilla

It was a franchise mark that was there for the taking, but it seems that Chicago Cubs reliever Rafael Dolis won’t get that chance now.

Dolis, who got the closer job after Carlos Marmol was removed from the role, was well within reach of the team’s single-season record for saves by a rookie.

Despite the Cubs not having a save opportunity for nearly a two weeks as they slogged their way through an 11-game losing streak, Dolis had four saves in his new role. According to STATS, the Cubs’ rookie record of 10 saves was set by Oscar Zamora in 1974 and matched by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter in 1976.

Now, though, comes the news out of Pittsburgh that manager Dale Sveum will look elsewhere for upcoming save opportunities. Sveum told media members that Dolis’ inability to throw strikes is unacceptable.

He not only walked two batters in the ninth inning of a tie game Saturday night against the Pirates, but he then hit a batter with the bases loaded to bring home the game-ending run. He was brought in Sunday in the middle innings and proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced. Eight of his nine pitches were balls, including the first six.

A demotion to the minor leagues wouldn’t be out of the question after what Dolis showed the last two days in Pittsburgh.

Since recording a save against the Atlanta Braves on May 9 by retiring all three batters he faced, Dolis has been far less efficient. He has a combined nine walks over his next seven outings, including a pair of walks in each of his last three outings.

Ten of the 16 earned runs Dolis has allowed this season have also come over those last seven outings. His other six earned runs came over his first 17 outings.

There was no indication who would take over the closer role now or if Sveum would use a closer-by-committee setup. If Sveum went to just one pitcher for the role, the most obvious choice would be James Russell, who has a 1.74 ERA over 20 2/3 innings.

Russell hasn’t given up a run in any of his last nine outings and has held the opponent scoreless in 19 of his 22 appearances this season.

Carlos Marmol is close to returning to the roster after a stint on the disabled list because of a hamstring injury, but he is not expected to be handed the closer job when he is back.