Mike Quade threw Carlos Marmol right back into the fire following his disastrous blown save yesterday, but the Cubs’ closer looked extremely shaky again today and was yanked with two outs in the ninth inning against the Marlins.
Marmol came on to close out a 2-0 lead, but walked leadoff man Omar Infante on four pitches, got Gaby Sanchez to pop out, and then gave up a long single to Hanley Ramirez. Luckily for Marmol the only thing worse than his control right now might be Ramirez’s brain, as he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double representing the tying run.
So instead of runners on the corners with one out Logan Morrison came to the plate with a runner on third base and two outs, and extended the inning with a sharp single to right field to make it 2-1. Quade mercifully took out Marmol and brought in left-hander Sean Marshall to face right-handed slugger Mike Stanton–which tells you he simply wanted Marmol out of the game at all costs–and he wriggled out of the jam and notched the save with a strikeout.
Ultimately the Cubs got the win and Marmol narrowly avoided his MLB-leading eighth blown save thanks to Marshall’s nifty escape, but he clearly doesn’t look right. When he’s on Marmol has perhaps the most overpowering, unhittable stuff in baseball, yet right now he either can’t find the strike zone or is grooving pitches just to avoid walking the ballpark.
Through his first 37 appearances Marmol struck out 52 of the 168 batters he faced, which is a remarkable 31 percent. Counting today, he’s now faced 20 consecutive hitters without a strikeout, walking seven batters during that span.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP
UPDATE, 5:08 PM EDT: Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon will not rule out a World Series appearance for Kyle Schwarber if the Cubs advance. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports that Schwarber could play through a simulated game on Sunday, during which the Cubs’ medical and baseball staff would evaluate his chances for a late season return. If he does play, it will likely be in a pinch-hitting or DH role and not on the field.
Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber will return to the playing field on Saturday, per a report by the Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales. The club’s prized left fielder suffered a season-ending injury when he collided with Dexter Fowler back in April, tearing both his ACL and LCL and undergoing intensive knee surgery later that month.
While no nerve damage was discovered during the surgery, the Cubs have kept a close eye on Schwarber during his recovery and put a kibosh on any part-time or full-time role with the team until the spring of 2017. Getting a few reps in during the Arizona Fall League appears to be the last step in the 23-year-old’s rehab process. He will be part of the Mesa Solar Sox’ ‘taxi squad,’ making him eligible for games on Wednesdays and Saturdays only.
Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with 16 in 69 games with the Cubs during his debut season in 2015. He will be added to the Mesa Solar Sox roster in advance of their set against the Salt River Rafters on Saturday evening.