Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Nobody expects the Dutch

Quick Links: 2008 Season Recap: Carlos Marmol
The Redemption of "The Automatic" Carlos Marmol

After blowing a save and tanking the Dominican Republic's WBC chances, Carlos Marmol is back with the Cubs today.  Some Cub fans are nervous about him -- after all, he had a bout last season in which he couldn't hit the strike zone and he's returning from a Meaningful Game with a blown save, a loss, brought on in part by a brain fart.

So -- does that mean that Marmol can't close?  Does that mean he's likely to do it again?  It's ridiculous that the pressure is on him already, but he's replacing a Cubs icon at closer and he has yet to prove that he is capable of shutting down the opposition in a big game.

But here's the deal.  If you go back and look at Marmol's numbers, his troubles began due to heavy use by Lou Piniella.  There were numerous games last year in which Marmol threw in back-to-back days, or for more than 1 inning, or both at the same time.  And when the overuse was at its peak, he lost his control and his mind for a while.

Maybe it actually makes more sense for Marmol to close because Piniella can't overuse him.  Much as I wrote in the second article I quick linked above, the biggest flaw I've noticed in Piniella is the way he handles his bullpen.  He will ride the hot arm without hesitation, but very few pitchers - Marmol included - have the ability to make 90 to 100 appearances a year and toss 100+ innings in relief and remain successful.  There's a burn out factor to worry about.  If Marmol gets to close, he'll have less chance to burn out, and if Marmol doesn't burn out then he'll probably make for a killer closer.

In other words, Carlos Marmol must close, even if he's the best setup man in baseball.  Or, at the very least, he must be given a fair opportunity to prove that he can close.  And panicking over a blown WBC game just doesn't make sense to me.

No worries with Carlos

The WBC blown save is a non-issue. The game should've gone farther into extra innings but the grounder was muffed at 1st that let the Netherlands score the winning run. I don't think Lou overworked him because that is exactly what Marmol has asked for - he likes to pitch often to stay sharp. But I do agree that management and Carlos need to strike a balance to avoid not over-using him. The team absolutely needs a couple of other relievers to step up and perform near Marmol's level, so that Carlos isn't the only horse that Lou can trot out of the pen this season. One or both of Kevin Gregg and Angel Guzman need to take a step forward and play a solid role in the pen, and if Marmol does close the bridge to get the ball to him in the 9th will be critical to this team winning games. I honestly think if Marmol is named the closer he will lead MLB in 2 and 1+ inning saves for the 2009 season, where he will get the brunt of the saves and Gregg will pick up a few here and there as well. Angel Guzman is the key to the bullpen, in my opinion. I can only hope that somebody, anybody steps up in the bullpen so that Jeff Samardzija doesn't get sucked into bullpen duties again in 2009.

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