Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs

Kevin Gregg had pitched on four consecutive days going in to the Cubs’ Sunday afternoon game versus the Mets. With his regular closer slated for a day off, Dale Sveum summoned Carlos Marmol to close out the Mets with a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. When the game was over, Marmol’s line would read as follows: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 HR.

Marmol surrendered a three-run walkoff blast to Kris Nieuwenhuis to cap this most Marmolian blown save.

The hard throwing right-hander has just six blown saves since his sudden fall from the Cubs’ closer role in 2011 when he piled up ten blown chances. This low blown save total is due to a drastic decrease in opportunities.

Of all his current struggles, control has always been an issue for Marmol, as evidenced by his 6.08 BB/9 career mark. Strikeouts, though, were always a big key to his successes. The strikeouts remain, but his inability to keep runners off the bases limits his effectiveness to a point where he should hardly be relied upon in high leverage situations.

Alfonso Soriano, Marmol’s teammate of seven years, has watched the former all-star at this best in 2007, 2008, and 2010. Perhaps that’s why the normally reserved left fielder was so upset following yesterday’s loss to the Mets. Soriano told reporters that he and his Cubs teammates have Marmol’s back, but he wasn’t so sure that Marmol can get back to where he was, via Chicago Tribune:

“I don’t know,” he said. “It depends on him. He used to be good. I think he’s good, but he’s lost a little bit of his confidence, and this game is all about confidence. … I hope he gets it back and becomes the Marmol I know.”

Soriano’s frustration is entirely understandable, especially given the great performance the Cubs got out of Matt Garza on the mound yesterday. He’s not even being critical of Marmol, but he’s more or less wondering aloud what happened to his teammate who once appeared to be dominate late in games. Soriano can hope that his Marmol “gets it back”, but this is the Marmol he knows.

Marmol’s fastball velocity has dipped slightly over the years, but he still averages close to 93 mph. He hits the strikezone at a slightly lower clip than he did in his best seasons (about 43% of the time 2012-13 to 48% for his career). Batter swing percentages are up, as are contact rates.

A relief pitcher with control problems lived by the strikeout, and now he’s giving up more walks and hits while struggling to keep the ball in the park. This is Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano knows him.