In the Cubs’ first game Thursday, Kerry Wood took a blown save in the eighth and Carlos Marmol got the loss in the ninth. In the second game Saturday, Wood took the loss in the eighth and Marmol got tagged with a blown save in the same inning.
Wood got the call to start the eighth with the Cubs up 4-2 and allowed a solo homer and two singles after starting the inning with two quick outs. That resulted in Marmol’s appearance with the tying run on second. Marmol walked the first batter he faced, allowed back-to-back hits and then walked one more guy before getting pulled. Shawn Camp allowed an infield single afterwards, giving the Nationals a five-run eighth in what turned out to be a 7-4 victory.
Wood and Marmol are now both sporting identical 27.00 ERAs and 6.00 WHIPs after two appearances. Marmol has given up four hits in his inning of work. In Sept./Oct. 2010, he pitched 15 2/3 innings and allowed just two hits.
The Cubs lack any other reliable relievers, so they’ll just have to hope Wood and Marmol work through their troubles. Pulling Marmol for the closer’s role temporarily is an option, but since Wood is in no position to claim the job, they’d probably have to mix-and-match James Russell and Rafael Dolis in the ninth if they go that route.
The Cubs had to figure going into the season that the bullpen was going to be a problem. Still, they were likely more confident about the eighth inning and Wood than they were about any other portion of it. Now they’ve already blown two leads in that inning, erasing quality performances from Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza in the process.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.