2011 Mega Spring Traning Preview: Carlos Marmol

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Remember when Carlos Marmol was a starter?

The year was 20aught6. Marmol started 13 games and pitched 77 innings that season, compiling a 5-7 record. In those 77 innings, he gave up 52 earned runs (6.08 ERA), walked 59 batters, and recorded 59 strikeouts. Woof.

Now let's fast-forward to 2010. In almost the exact same number of innings pitched (77.2) as a closer, Marmol gave up 22 earned runs (2.55 ERA), walked 52 batters, and recorded 138 strikeouts. Marmol the starter served up 14 home runs in 2006. But over the next four years, Marmol the reliever gave up 16 home runs total

Maybe it's best we don't remember Marmol as a starter. 

I'll be the first to admit that I was opposed to making Marmol the full-time closer. It wasn't that I was concerned with his abilities or that I didn't trust him in such a crucial role, rather that he was the best weapon the Cubs had out of the bullpen. By designating him the closer, he would be limited in his usage. As a non-closer, Marmol could be deployed in any situation. Sometimes games are decided in the 6th or 7th inning, and I wanted Marmol to be available for those moments.

I'm glad I was wrong.

Marmol's transformation into one of the best closers in the league is thanks in part to Sean Marshall's recent success out of the bullpen. But more to the point, Marmol does what every great closer is supposed to do: strike out suckers and not allow home runs. In these two areas, he is exceptionally qualified.

Last season, Marmol had a 16.0 K/9 and allowed only one home run the entire season (to Sh!tsburgh's Jeff Clement of all people), His walk totals are still a little too high for comfort, but Marmol's success in 2011 will again be determined by strikeouts and home runs, which I fully expect him to handle.
Of all the "slam dunk to make the team" players in our season preview series, Marmol might be the dunkiest. One could argue that he might not be the most valuable player on the Cubs roster, but in my opinion, Marmol is certainly the best at this moment.
Here's to health, happiness, and strikeouts.  

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