After Saturday’s loss, Chicago Cub fans have completely given up on Carlos Marmol, and manager Dale Sveum has been thrown into the fire right along with him. Fans are getting tired of seeing Marmol trotted out to the mound game after game, only to see him give fans heart attacks, and finding a way to grab defeat from the jaws of victory. They want Marmol gone from the team, and believe that because Sveum insists on using him in meaningful games, that he should also be shown the door.
I can understand fan’s frustrations, and wanting to see Marmol catapulted off the team. After all, with the way he has pitched since the end of the 2010 season, who can blame fans for cringing every time his name is announced as the man coming out of the pen. But calling for the head of Sveum should not even cross the minds of the overly frustrated Cub fans.
Yes, I am getting just as tired of seeing Marmol put into games just to see him load the bases, bring the game tying or winning run up to the plate and putting them on base before you can blink an eye. But, what else do you want Sveum to do with the mess that he is given to work with? Jeff Samardzija could have gone another inning and that would have made things a lot easier, but using him another inning might not exactly have been the smartest thing to do. Samardzija was already over 100 pitches, and using him for another inning might have led to an arm injury. Not saying he would have gotten injured, but do you really want to risk that?
Face facts, pitchers throwing complete games every time out, or even more often than not, is not going to happen. You might get a game where they are simply dominating the opposition and are into the later stages of the game with a low pitch count, but that does not happen all too often. Even the best starting pitchers in baseball fail to regularly throw complete games. With that, you need your bullpen, even when your bullpen makes you want to hurl obscenities every game. That is where the Cub fans frustration comes into play.
I get that you do not want to see Marmol put into the game, but honestly, which reliever would you rather see? The choices in the Cubs bullpen are not pretty.
The most obvious answer is James Russell. He has been the best and most consistent reliever the Cubs have in the bullpen. In 16 games, and 12.1 innings pitched, Russell has yet to give up a run, has a WHIP of .073 and is holding opponents to a very low .167 batting average. He should always be the first man out of the pen when the Cubs are in a tight situation and need to get out of an inning. The problem is, he cannot pitch two or three innings every game. He also cannot pitch one inning every game. You can try to get him to pitch an inning or two every game, but that is a very easy way to get him injured, and without him, your bullpen goes from pathetically bad to non existent.
After Russell, I guess you can say Kevin Gregg would be the next reliable pitcher out of the pen, but come on, he is Kevin Gregg and we have all seen this show before. Sure, he is pitching great right now, but how long do you expect that to last? There is a reason why he was cut loose a few weeks ago, and why the Cubs were able to pick him up as easily and as cheaply as they did. No one else in baseball wanted him, and you don’t have to try too hard to find the reason. But let’s play this out using yesterday’s game as an example.
Samardzija leaves the game after six innings and 100 some pitches. Russell comes in for the seventh and keeps the Cubs in the lead as you would expect. Saturday, Sveum brings in Marmol, and you know the rest of the story. He walks the first two batters and proceeds to hit the third before being lifted for Hector Rondon who does nothing to help the situation.
Sveum could have brought in Gregg in place of Marmol, and assuming he keeps the lead in tact, who does he use in the ninth to get the save? The choices are not easy as you would think they would be.
Michael Bowden would be a decent option, but he has been less than reliable and has suffered the wrath of the fans too, though less than most of the fans. With his opponents hitting .227 off of him, and his WHIP of .118 he can be gotten to as you can see by his 4.26 ERA. Would he be a better option than Marmol in the later innings? Perhaps, but he falls into the same category as Russell, and cannot be used everyday.
Then there is Kameron Loe. While he hasn’t been over the top terrible since joining the Cubs bullpen, he has not exactly been good. Since joining the Cubs he has pitched 8.1 innings and has given up five runs, three of which were home runs that aided in a few losses. He is far from reliable out of the pen, and I am not sure if fans actually would trust him more than Marmol. With opponents hitting a massive .355 off of him and a WHIP of 1.77 he throws batting practice every time he takes the mound. Though after Saturday’s game, I am sure they would take just about anyone over Marmol.
Rondon would be another issue, but as the Rule 5 draft pick, do you really want to throw a rookie into the pressure cooker of holding a lead late in the game? He has shown flashes of talent, but overall he has not been great. Opponents are hitting .256 off of him and he has a WHIP of 1.59.
Last, and certainly least, we have last years golden boy Shawn Camp. While he shined last year, he has taken several steps back. His 7.15 ERA is just the tip of the iceberg with him, as he has given up hits to the tune of .340 and offered up a WHIP of .176. Camp has also balked more times than I care to remember, moving them over and in. Even with “Marmol’s Wild Ride” you should never want to see Camp march to the mound. He should be the team’s last resort unless the game is far out of reach.
Funny how that is the same mindset most fans have when thinking of Marmol. The same thing could be said for just about everyone in the Cubs bullpen, save for Russell, and that is where the problem lies.
Sveum’s hands are pretty much tied when he needs to go to the bullpen. He can only work with what he has been given to work with, which as you can see is not much. All he can do is get as many innings out of his starting pitchers as he can. If his starter can only go six or seven innings, all he can do is use Russell until his arm falls off, then hope and pray whichever crap reliever he throws out on the mound can get three outs.
If you think you are frustrated with Sveum’s bullpen use, how do you think he feels? He has to choose between this crap and hope things work in his favor when he knows the odds are against him. You can turn off the game when the starter exits, he has to sit through all these games and watch as everything falls apart. He cannot just leave the dugout, though I am sure there are times he wishes he could. For as much as you are upset and sick over the Cubs bullpen explosions, I guarantee you that Sveum feels much worse than you.
All Sveum, and Cubs fans can do is pray for rain shortened games if they want to avoid the massive fail that is the Cubs pen.