The Carlos Marmol show rages on

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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.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.

Marlins trade David Phelps to the Mariners for four prospects

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The Miami Marlins have sent reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four prospects. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ken Rosenthal had rumors of the deal first, Jon Morosi, Jeff Passan and Jon Heyman (among others) all reported the trade at virtually the same time.

Phelps, 30, had a fantastic 2016 season, posting a 2.28 ERA in 64 games while striking out 11.8 batters per nine innings. He’s not been as strong this year, but he’s still been a solid setup man, posting a 3.45 ERA in 44 games while striking out 51 batters and walking 21 in 47 innings. He throws in the mid-90s and induces grounders. The Mariners could probably use rotation help more than bullpen help, but solid innings are solid innings at one point and improving your pen takes some of the pressure off of your rotation. Phelps will help Seattle with that. He’s under team control for next year too, so this is more than a rental.

The top prospect in the deal is Brayan Hernandez, a 19 year-old outfielder from Venezuela, currently playing in low-A ball. Also in the deal: righty Brandon Miller, righty Pablo Lopez and righty Lucas Schiraldi who, yes, is the son of ex-big leaguer Calvin Schiraldi. None of these guys are blue chippers, but you never know what’ll happen. It’s a volume return for the Fish.

We’ve already seen some big bullpen names move, including David Robertson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Among others who could be moved:  A.J. Ramos (Marlins); Justin Wilson (Tigers); Addison Reed (Mets); Jerry Blevins (Mets); Brad Hand (Padres); Tony Watson (Pirates); Juan Nicasio (Pirates); Brad Brach (Orioles); Drew Storen (Reds); and Raisel Iglesias (Reds).