It sounds like Cubs manager Dale Sveum is just about ready to give Carlos Marmol another chance in the closer role just a week after stripping him of ninth-inning duties.
“I would be lying to you if he wasn’t working his way back into it,” Sveum told Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. “He is throwing strikes and he is throwing his slider more and he’s more consistent. So, yeah, he’s working his way back. That was part of the deal.”
It also helps Marmol’s cause that potential replacement closer Kyuji Fujikawa is now on the disabled list and Shawn Camp blew a save Sunday. In the meantime Marmol has thrown four scoreless innings since the demotion, although with three strikeouts compared to two walks he hasn’t exactly been dominant.
And for whatever it’s worth Jeff Samardzija voiced his support for turning back to Marmol, saying: “We have a closer. Marmol’s our guy.”
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.