Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol imploded yesterday, walking two batters and hitting another to load the bases with no outs in the eighth inning attempting to hold on to a 4-2 lead. Manager Dale Sveum replaced Marmol with Hector Rondon, who allowed all three of Marmol’s runners to score and the Reds eventually went on to win 6-4. Marmol pitched again today, completing a perfect sixth inning.
Marmol’s shaky control is no secret. Entering the season, he was averaging six walks for every nine innings and has the highest walk rate among all relievers (minimum 400 innings) since he came into the league in 2006, his 15 percent well ahead of second-place Fernando Rodney and Kevin Gregg’s 11 percent. This season, he has walked as many as he has struck out (12) in 12.2 innings.
At some point, you would think the Cubs would keep Marmol’s Russian roulette approach away from high-leverage situations, but Sveum is not going to hide him. Via Bruce Miles:
“We’re really in no different situation than we were yesterday,” said manager Dale Sveum.” Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes. But nothing’s changed in that fashion right now. Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch.”
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.