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Cubs survive another Carlos Marmol scare, beat Pirates 3-2

Apr 4, 2013, 3:35 PM EST

Carlos Marmol AP

After Carlos Marmol‘s shaky showing got him pulled from a save chance on Opening Day, the Cubs reiterated that he was still their closer.

Marmol, though, wasted no time in putting that to the test. Handed another 3-0 lead on Wednesday — thanks to a Nate Schierholtz homer providing two insurance runs in the top of the ninth — Marmol gave up a single, a walk and back-to-back RBI singles before finishing off the Pirates.

Manager Dale Sveum used both James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa in relief of Marmol to close out a 3-1 game Monday, but the two fallbacks had already worked today, giving Marmol more rope than he likely otherwise would have received. Sveum did get Hisanori Takahashi up after the first run scored, but he stuck with Marmol after a visit to the mound from Chris Bosio.

Marmol escaped the jam by striking out Pedro Alvarez and inducing a double-play ball from Neil Walker. Both at-bats were pretty awful. Alvarez fanned on three pitches, the last being a slider in the dirt. Walker reached for a fastball that was outside and a bit high and, instead of going with it, tried to pull it. The result was an easy 4-6-3.

The problem for Marmol right now is that his slider isn’t diving like it once did. As a two-pitch pitcher with no command, he’s always relied on getting swings and misses on his slider. And right now, the pitch often isn’t tempting enough to chase. The Cubs can’t keep turning late leads over to him while he looks like this. Walker’s grounder may have bought Marmol a little more time to figure things out, but it’s obvious that Fujikawa is the guy the Cubs should be turning to in the ninth.

  1. professormaddog31 - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    And to think, they could have unloaded him for Dan Haren. What might have been…

  2. mscott4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    When he’s off it seems like he isn’t trying to attack the strike zone. He wants to nibble at the corners at times and he obviously doesn’t have the command to do it. He hasn’t been helped by the umpires though. Both of his save opportunities PitchTrax or whatever it’s called showed a called ball being strike 3 and both times early in an inning and he went on to walk the batter.

  3. heyzeus143 - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    It’s the pirates, enough said.

  4. insidefastball - Apr 4, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    The Cubs just need to release him. The guy has no clue where the ball is going whenever he releases a pitch. He is a basket case on the mound. Nothing is more demoralizing to a team than a closer who turns every save opportunity into a circus.

    • mscott4 - Apr 4, 2013 at 5:31 PM

      Releasing him you get no value from him at all while he costs almost 10 mil. The Cubs are in a position where they aren’t going to compete this year so if he blows a few games it really doesn’t harm them all that much. If he’s atrocious for an extended time and has no value then move him to mop up duty or a smaller role. But if he can somehow turn it around like the second half of last year you may get something of value for him. They are in a unique position where they can let him try to straighten it out, unlike a team like Detroit who need stability from their closer position in order to compete.

      • rvnc - Apr 4, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        at risk of being slammed i agree with this. the cubs really don’t have anything to lose by leaving marmol out there. Of course its demoralising and frustrating for fans but they are going to be in last place anyway regardless of how he performs. might as well try and get some value out of him whilst he’s around.

      • jimmyt - Apr 5, 2013 at 9:32 AM

        Are the Cubs ever in a position where they are going to compete?

  5. vpisteve99 - Apr 4, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    A simple eye exam and some bad glasses should solve this problem. Worked for Ricky Vaughn, don’t see why it won’t work for Marmol.

  6. hushbrother - Apr 5, 2013 at 8:25 AM

    I hate to say it but Alvarez is a bum. His pitch recognition is lousy – he can’t hit lefties, can’t hit off speed stuff. He’s been in the league long enough now where it’s clear that this is as good as he’s ever going to be.

    .230 with 25 homers and close to 180 strikeouts is his ceiling. Unfortunately, something the Pirates seem to think that’s plenty good enough.

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