In today’s series finale against the Mets, Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol allowed four runs and recorded just one out in the ninth inning as the Mets stormed from a 3-0 deficit to walk off as 4-3 winners. Cubs starter Matt Garza pitched brilliantly over seven innings and James Russell tossed a perfect eighth to bring the 3-0 lead to Marmol in the ninth. Closer Kevin Gregg was unavailable as a result of pitching four games in a row.
Marmol started off on the wrong foot, surrendering a lead-off home run to Marlon Byrd. He then walked Lucas Duda and surrendered a single to John Buck. Omar Quintanilla successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position for the recently-recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis. After getting ahead 1-0, Nieuwenhuis turned on a 94 MPH fastball for a walk-off three-run home run.
Marmol entered the game with a 4.78 ERA, but it ballooned to 6.08 after today’s outing. As the 30-year-old is a free agent after the season and the Cubs are 15 games out of first place, they are ostensibly continuing to use him in high-leverage situations to build up his trade value. Marmol’s strikeout rate, however, has dropped to its lowest point since his rookie season in 2006 and his tightrope act doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.
McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.
Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.
The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.