2010 Player Preview: Carlos Marmol
Behold, the destruction or salvation of the 2010 Chicago Cubs. Carlos Marmol is the key. In a bullpen rife with weakness, with no other option available, Jim Hendry is putting all of his closer eggs into Marmol's basket. Looking purely at his stuff, it is evident that Carlos is the right choice to make. He is at times unhittable. In 307.2 career innings of work, Marmol has surrendered a mere 195 hits. That's freaking ridiculous.
But he is also at times unable to hit the strike zone. His BB/9 ratio went up dramatically between 2008 and 2009 (from a respectable 4.2 per 9 innings to a terrifying 7.9 per 9 last year). In other words, up until 2009 Marmol was effective, but last year he was effectively wild. This is a risky scenario for a guy who's expected to end each game he pitches in. There aren't many pitchers I can think of who had long, successful careers while walking 7.9 batters per 9 innings of work.
If Carlos is able to face down his pitching demons and regularly locate the strike zone, then I anticipate that he will have an outstanding season and the Cubs will be that much more likely to compete successfully. But if he falls, so fall the Cubs. There's just nobody else in the bullpen who can assume that role, and Jim Hendry is unlikely to pull a trade for anybody who can.
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