Slave for Saves: Moving Carlos Marmol to Closer Would Cost the Chicago Cubs

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IApril 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 04:  Pitcher Carlos Marmol #49 of the Chicago Cubs on the mound in the sixth inning while taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the NLDS during the 2008 MLB playoffs on October 4, 2008 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The debate is hot early on when it comes to the Cubs closer. 

Kevin Gregg has started the year with a loss, one blown save in two tries, and a 9.00 ERA in four innings.

Carlos Marmol has started the year with a save in his only chance and hasn't given up a run in his four and two thirds innings pitched.

Forget all that.  There are reasons beyond the numbers that both players are in the roles they need to be in.

I have already written articles talking about Gregg and Marmol and the reasons why Gregg was brought in.  Now, I am not a Gregg fan, but his numbers speak if you look a little deeper.

On the other hand, I am a Marmol fan.  His numbers definitely constitute moving him into the ninth inning.  His situation doesn't.

I am a firm believer that the save is the most overrated statistic in baseball. Sixty-two saves can land you a huge contract because your teams offense wasn't dynamic and your team was leading by less than four runs the majority of the time.

Two guys that actually pitched better than K-Rod last year, Joakim Soria and Joe Nathan, both has 24 less opportunities to save games than Rodriguez.  Rodriguez also pitched the most innings out of the three with 68.1, even though they were both close to him, Nathan pitched 67.2 and Soria 67.1.

Now, these guys were and are their teams best bullpen pitchers, yet, none of them pitched in more than 76 games. 

Now, in Chicago, the Cubs best bullpen pitcher met the mound in 82 games and threw nearly 19 more innings (87.1) than K-Rod.

So, if the Cubs would move Marmol into the ninth inning, it is likely that his innings would drop to around 70, so he could get about 40 to 45 save opportunities.  That is like taking two full games out of his hand.  That is 18 innings of about four run baseball.

Instead, you keep Carlos available in the sixth, seventh, or eighth innings.  You get much more value and versatility out of him.  Plus, keeping him in those situation, will allow for there to be more save opportunities to begin with. 

You don't play six innings of winning baseball, then hope you still have the lead in the ninth.  When you have the lead, you try to secure the lead, and moving Carlos to closer hurts your chances at doing that.

With Carlos in the role he is in, you also allow your team to tack on runs and build on a lead so that the game isn't as close in the ninth and the closer may be negated.  This is another reason you don't want Marmol there. 

Why have him waste on the bench when the Cubs are blowing teams out like they did so much last year?

Another thing to look at is his lack of success, though a small sample size, in big games.  He has been downright awful in the post season, giving up five runs in 5.2 innings, for a 7.94 ERA.  He also blew a save in the World Baseball Classic and was the only pitcher on the Dominican team that had an ERA.

His value to this team is much stronger in the set-up role.  The bullpen will be weakened enormously when lesser pitchers have to make up the 20+ innings you lose by moving Marmol to the closer role.

That is reason alone to leave Marmol where he is at, if you ask me.