Carlos Marmol has officially been removed from the Cubs' closer duties, according to CSN Chicago's David Kaplan:
Cubs.Com's Carrie Muskat tweeted that Rafael Dolis and James Russell will share closer duties, based on matchups:
Sveum said after Marmol's meltdown in the 4-3 extra-inning loss at Cincinnati on Thursday that he was "considering" Rafael Dolis and James Russell for the closer role, so all of this becoming official a day later is hardly a surprise.
It's hard for anybody to disagree with the decision, as Marmol's been flat-out terrible this season, and wasn't much better in the second half of 2011, posting a 5.91 ERA in 32 innings pitched. This season, the 29-year-old has a 6.23 ERA in 8 2/3 innings pitched, with eight hits allowed, and most notably, 12 (!) walks allowed.
It's crazy to think that just two seasons ago, Marmol had a 2.55 ERA and 138 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings pitched. His command's always been very bad, but he was able to get away with that because his slider was so filthy that few people hit him. Now, his slider doesn't seem to have nearly the same bite on it, and he's not missing nearly as many bats. When you're walking a batter per inning, AND they're making solid contact on you, the results aren't going to be pretty.
Still, Rafael Dolis and James Russell aren't options that Cubs fans can exactly be confident in.
The 24-year-old Dolis only had 1 1/3 major league innings under his belt before this season. Currently, he has a 3.52 ERA in 15 1/3 innings pitched, but has also walked eight, and struck out just four. He's a sinker-baller that gets a lot of groundballs, but if he keeps walking hitters at that rate, some of those groundballs will find holes and runs will score. The right-hander has a fastball that touches 97 mph on occasion and a slider that can be filthy at times, so his strikeout rate should improve in time (hopefully very soon).
James Russell had a terrific 2.19 ERA out of the bullpen last year for the Cubs, and only walked nine batters in 49 1/3 innings. And this year, he hasn't allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings pitched. However, right-handed batters have put up huge numbers against him in his career: .308 batting average, 14 home runs, .890 OPS, and just 38 strikeouts in 322 plate appearances (compared to 55 in 213 plate appearances from lefties). If Russell continues these trends, he's best-suited as a lefty specialist.
So, let's hope Sveum indeed plays the matchups correctly. Dolis should be starting most ninth innings, and Russell should start the inning when multiple left-handed batters are due up. Or start one of them in the inning and bring in the other depending on matchups.
It's unknown what Marmol's role is going to be for now, but I'd hope Sveum waits until Marmol shows some improvements before using him in any important seventh or eighth inning situations in the near future.
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