In nature a peak is always accompanied by a valley. Our fundamental understanding of this fact extends itself into other areas of thought and reason in our lives. We are taught by the natural order of things that the highs are usually followed by the lows, and vice versa.
Tall peaks tend to have deep valleys. The rate of descent may vary but eventually everything that rises has to come back down.
So it is with Carlos Marmol, whose peak was astounding, and whose rapid descent into a ghastly valley is equally astonishing.
Marmol always led a dangerous dance with command but it always ended with Carlos in the lead, escaping various situation on stuff alone. The old Marmol slider was truly one of the best pitches in all of baseball.
Now the stuff has taken a hit, the batters aren’t swinging at his pitches and Marmol is now in a career free fall eerily reminiscent of so many one pitch relievers before him.
Marmol has long drawn comps to Brad Lidge, Armando Benitez, and Rob Dibble. None had very effective careers deep into their 30’s, relievers rarely do, and only Lidge managed to salvage a small career after a drop off in talent.
Carlos Marmol is not the Cubs closer anymore. How did this happen? How did Carlos go from a historic 2010 season to the depths of what he is today? Let’s look at two charts.
Whiff percentage measures Swings and Misses. Marmol’s ratio of swings and misses was dropping. Marmol never had an elite fastball, but they absolutely started creaming it after 2010. Marmol simply lost control of his slider, opposing batters stopped swinging at it, and usage of his fastball increased from 36% in 2011 to 51% in 2012.
Simply put, Marmol lost just enough on his slider to mitigate what little value his fastball had as a show me pitch. When Marmol had to concentrate on throwing strikes with the fastball his results plummeted.
Marmol isn’t fooling anyone and the slider that was his bread and butter is now completely ignored by opposing batters.
It’s a popular opinion, but I think it’s the right one. Marmol is completely done.