Carlos Marmol is back as the Cubs’ closer

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Carlos Marmol notched his first save since May 2 yesterday against the Red Sox, but in typical Marmol-fashion, it wasn’t easy.

Marmol gave up a one-out single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Mike Aviles reached on a fielding error by third baseman Luis Valbuena. He then struck out Daniel Nava looking before walking Scott Podsednik to load the bases. However, he was able to get Dustin Pedroia to ground out to end it.

While the appearance hardly inspires confidence moving forward, Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed after the game that the erratic right-hander will continue to serve as the closer. According to Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune, Sveum said he made the move “to solidify the bullpen somewhat.” No word on if he said that with a straight face. Then again, the Cubs don’t have many great options in their bullpen right now.

Marmol has an ugly 5.79 ERA and 21/22 K/BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings this season, including a 4.91 ERA and 9/6 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings since returning from a hamstring strain at the end of May. Moving him back to the closer role is a way to showcase him for a potential trade, but given that he’s making $7 million this season and $9.8 million next year, that’s going to be a pretty tough sell.

Yoenis Cespedes blames a lack of golf for his early season slump

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Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.

It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.

Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:

He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.

“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”

The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.