Carlos Marmol

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.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.