On Tuesday the Chicago Cubs announced that relief pitcher Carlos Marmol was designated for assignment. The former All-Star has had trouble in each of the last three seasons, including his lackluster performance so far this year. Let’s take a look back at Marmol’s career with the Cubs’ organization.
Carlos Marmol was signed by the Cubs as an amateur free agent on July 3, 1993. But when the team signed him, he wasn’t pitching the ball; he was catching it. He converted to pitching in 2003, and did most of his work as a starter. Of his 90 career minor league pitching appearances, 77 of those came as a starting pitcher. Arguably his best full season in the minor leagues happened during the 2004 campaign when he was playing for the Lansing Lugnuts, the Class A affiliate for the Cubs. That year he had a 14-8 record, posted a 3.20 ERA, and had a strikeout per walk (K/BB) ratio of 2.91. By June of 2006, he made his way to…
On June 4, 2006, Carlos Marmol made his Major League debut for the Cubs against the St. Louis Cardinals. In two innings of relief, he struck out three batters, gave up only one hit, and didn’t walk a batter or give up any runs. Marmol stuck around in the big leagues making 18 more appearances, 13 of them being starts. He did about as well as you would expect of someone who had only been pitching professionally for three full seasons before his Major League debut; 5-7 record, ERA just over 6.00, walked as many batters as he struck out. But things could only look up for him from there, and for awhile, it was pretty wonderful.
After starting the season at Triple-A affiliate Iowa, Marmol was called back up to the Cubs in May. Once he was put into the bullpen, he took the league by storm. He had the nastiest slider in the majors. He started it out over the middle of the plate, and once the hitter committed to hitting the pitch, it made a huge break to the outside corner. Marmol’s 2007 season was nothing short of dominant, and in 59 games he finished with a 5-1 record, an ERA of just 1.73, and struck out 96 batters.
He followed up that season with an All-Star campaign in 2008. He kept a low 2.68 ERA in 82 games, and continued to strike everybody out, racking up 114 K’s on the year. By the end of the 2008 season, there was a lot of talk about making Marmol the team’s closer since Ryan Dempster had converted back to being a starting pitcher and then-closer Kerry Wood’s career had been filled with injuries. Though the team went out and signed Kevin Gregg before the season started, in 2009 Marmol got his chance at being…
After Kevin Gregg hadn’t exactly performed as well as the Cubs organization wanted him to, they turned over the closing duties to Marmol. It didn’t turn out too badly for either him or the team, as he picked up 15 saves and only blew four save opportunities. His ERA continued to increase as it ended up at 3.41, but he still struck out 93 batters in 79 appearances.
2010 was Marmol’s first chance at being the team’s full-time closer, and he did not disappoint anybody. He had another sensational season, posting a 2.55 ERA and striking out 138 batters, giving him a K/9 ratio of 16.0! And as far as his closing role? He picked up 38 saves, and only blew five. After that season, Marmol just never seemed the same.
In 2011, he lost something that he had the year before. He struck out 99 batters and finished with 34 saves, but his ERA was at 4.01 and he blew ten save opportunities.
2012 was a similar story for Marmol, but this time he lost the closing job. After he seemed to find his rhythm in the second half of the season, he got the job back and ended the year with 20 saves.
Then this year…well, we all know what happened this year. Marmol pitched worse than he has his entire career, blowing more saves than he converted, including this game against the Mets. The Cubs were ahead 3-0, and Marmol proved that he can give up four runs quicker than he can get three outs.
Fans were outraged at Marmol’s inability to control his now wild slider and get batters out. But after the number of great seasons that he put together for this team, it’s hard to blame the fans for being so angry at him. After all, he was the rock of the bullpen for four years. He was an All-Star, he even got an MVP vote in 2007, but now it’s hard for him to get through an entire inning.
It is a shame that he left the Cubs this way. He brought so much hope to the fans of a franchise that hasn’t won a World Series in nearly 105 years. I’m sure that another team will give him a chance in the Major’s again, and I wish him success where ever he ends up.