Carlos Marmol removed from closer’s role indefinitely

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Cubs manager Mike Quade acknowledged the obvious following yesterday’s close call win over the Marlins, telling Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Carlos Marmol will be removed from the closer role indefinitely to work on his mechanics.

“Relievers just don’t have the side time and the time to work on stuff that starters do,” Quade said. “You almost have to say you’re going to give him a couple of days.”

Marmol walked four out of the five batters he faced Thursday night and followed that up by allowed two hits and a walk before being yanked from yesterday’s game in favor of Sean Marshall, who recorded the final out. If it wasn’t for Hanley Ramirez, who ran into the second out at second base, things could have been a lot worse.

Marmol’s ERA has jumped from 2.21 to 3.80 over his last four appearances. He has gone 20 batters without registering a strikeout, a shocking statistic for someone who has struck out 29.9 percent of the batters he’s faced during his major league career.

“He needs to get himself consistent, work-wise and understand what he needs to do, like he has for years,” Quade said. “Everybody goes through tough times and adjustments and this is one of his. We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this guy has been good for a long time. It’s not like he’s been falling apart.”

Not completely true. For what it’s worth, Marmol is averaging just 91.9 mph on his fastball this season, down from 94.1 mph in 2010 and 94 mph in 2009. According to Brooks Baseball, he topped out at 91.4 mph on his heater yesterday. That’s not the guy we’re used to seeing.

There’s no timetable for Marmol’s return to the closer’s role, but Marshall and Kerry Wood should handle most of the save chances while he attempts to right himself.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.