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.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.