|ESPN.com: SweetSpot||[Print without images]|
From the bullpen, Piniella summoned Carlos Marmol, his usual eighth-inning guy. Marmol walked Jeff Francoeur on four pitches -- no easy feat -- which led to the following exchange between WGN's Len Kasper and Bob Brenly:
Brenly: And I know there are a lot of Cub fans out there that want to see Carlos Marmol in that closer's role with this ball club, and I think it's inevitable that at some point in the future, whether it's this year or next year, Carlos Marmol will be the closer for the Chicago Cubs. But keep in mind, those of you who want Carlos to close ball games, what happens a lot of times when he comes into the game. He walks the first batter he sees on four pitches ... We've seen him come in and hit a couple of guys before settling down and finding the strike zone. And when you're nursing a three-run lead or less in that ninth inning, that is the last thing in the world you want to happen.
Kasper and Brenly are both exceptionally intelligent and thoughtful men; when they talk, I listen. And I can't dispute their take on Marmol this season. That said, Brenly set up a bit of a straw man here. Sure, a lot of people thought Marmol should be the closer this season. I sure did. But Marmol entered this season having averaged, over the previous two seasons, 4.4 walks per nine innings and 12.1 strikeouts per nine, for a solid 2.76 K/BB ratio. He'd been somewhat homer-prone, but Armando Benitez made that combination work for six years.
That was then. Now, nearly a third of the way into this season, Marmol's strikeouts are down, his walks are way up, and his K/BB ratio is just a shade over 1. Throw in the five batters he's hit, and Marmol's exceptionally lucky to have a 3.00 ERA. And while this might be just a third-of-a-season blip, Marmol's advocates should probably lay low until he regains some semblance of control. I know I will.