Closer Report: Messy Marmol

Carlos Marmol is a perfect 10-for-10 on save opportunities since he reclaimed the closing role in Chicago, so we have to give the man credit for fulfilling his most basic responsibility. But Marmol certainly hasn't earned any style points during his recent string of successful conversions. Only once in his last 17 appearances has he managed to record three outs without giving up at least one hit or walk (or both).
These are Marmol's numbers dating back to June 15, when he protected a three-run lead against the Red Sox: 11.2 IP, 10 H, 10 BB, 3.86 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 18 Ks, 10 SV.
Obviously we like the Ks and the saves, and we can tolerate the earned run average. But I shouldn't need to tell you that it's awfully tough to maintain a sub-4.00 ERA while regularly allowing two baserunners per inning.
Back on July 14, Marmol delivered the variety of save that nearly summarizes his season. The play-by-play went like this (via the Yahoo! box score):
- C. Marmol relieved S. Camp
- S. Drew doubled to right center
- C. Young walked
- G. Blum flied out to deep right
- J. Kubel hit for D. Hernandez
- J. Kubel grounded into double play first to shortstop to pitcher, C. Young out at second
Blum's fly-out to right was a warning track shot, absolutely hammered. Check the tape. Kubel's grounder to first was scalded as well.
But saves are saves, and they're actually somewhat difficult to blow — especially when a closer is handed a two- or three-run lead, with no one on base. So for now, Marmol retains the ninth inning. His recent success — miraculous though it may be — may have opened a window in which the Cubs can sell him for … well, for something. Anything.
Of course scouts are seeing the same things that the rest of us see, plus a thousand other details. Perhaps there's no moving Marmol. I'd like to think he's on the trade block, however. This thought helps my entire city sleep a little better.
If you're looking for closer handcuffs, hit the list …
(Reminder: The "ranks" below are about the relative certainty of each team's closer situation. We're not rating the talent of each pitcher).
Job Security Index
30. Minnesota — Glen Perkins & Jared Burton
29. Milwaukee — Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford
28. Miami — Steve Cishek, Edward Mujica, Mike Dunn, Heath Bell
27. Los Angeles Angels — Ernesto Frieri & Scott Downs
26. Chicago Cubs — Carlos Marmol, Shawn Camp, James Russell
25. New York Mets — Bobby Parnell, Jon Rauch
24. Houston — Francisco Cordero, Wilton Lopez
23. Seattle — Tom Wilhelmsen, Brandon League
22. San Francisco — Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo
21. Kansas City — Jonathan Broxton, Aaron Crow, Greg Holland, Kelvin Herrera
20. Chicago White Sox — Addison Reed, Brett Myers, Matt Thornton
19. Boston — Alfredo Aceves, Vicente Padilla
18. Washington — Tyler Clippard, Sean Burnett, Drew Storen
17. Detroit — Jose Valverde, Joaquin Benoit
16. Arizona — J.J. Putz, David Hernandez
15. Toronto — Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver
14. San Diego — Huston Street, Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson
13. Colorado — Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers
12. Baltimore — Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop
11. Oakland — Ryan Cook, Grant Balfour
10. Tampa Bay — Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, Kyle Farnsworth
9. St. Louis — Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs
8. Cleveland — Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano
7. New York Yankees — Rafael Soriano, David Robertson
6. Pittsburgh — Joel Hanrahan, Jason Grilli, Juan Cruz
5. Cincinnati — Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall
4. Los Angeles Dodgers — Kenley Jansen, Josh Lindblom, Ronald Belisario
3. Texas — Joe Nathan, Mike Adams
2. Atlanta — Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen, Jonny Venters
1. Philadelphia — Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo

Chris Perez has stubbornly refused to lose his job this year, despite the early-season predictions that he would from almost everyone. As a result, we haven't paid much attention to another terrific season from set-up man Vinnie Pestano: 1.54 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 11.4 K/9. He's allowed just one run over his last 20.1 innings, dating back to June 1. He's now given us back-to-back years with exceptional ratios. This guy is an elite asset in holds leagues, and in formats with easily reached innings limits (where K-rate is king). Pestano is available in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which seems wrong.
Frank Francisco's rehab assignment has been delayed by knee issues, which is obviously troubling. Francisco and his 4.97 ERA have been on the DL due to an oblique strain since late-June. Francisco has received an anti-inflammatory injection. And so we wait.
The Padres are apparently talking extension with Huston Street, which is a bit of a surprise. Street seemed like one of the most likely candidates to be moved this season, and perhaps to the Mets. The presumptive handcuff in San Diego has been Luke Gregerson, but you'll recall that Dale Thayer served as the interim closer earlier this season, when Street hit the DL. Thayer had a few hiccups back in May, near the end of his saves stint, but he's been solid over the past month. He's allowed just one earned run and three walks over his last 13 appearances (12.2 IP). Thayer has saved 173 games over 10 seasons in the minors, so you can't say he's not accustomed to the ninth.
If you're a Brett Myers owner who's still hoping he'll get a shot at the ninth in Chicago, you should note that he has a vesting option in his contract for 2013, based on games finished. The White Sox are not gonna want to trigger that thing, I'd guess. You can't realistically expect a Myers takeover.

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