According to David Kaplan and Fred Mitchell, two baseball writers for the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are nearing agreement on a long-term extension with closer Carlos Marmol.
There’s not much information available at the moment. The bit of news only got two sentences on the Tribune‘s website, one which pretty much reads like the introduction here in this post and one that says an announcement should come “before pitchers and catchers report” to spring training next weekend.
Marmol was eligible for arbitration this winter for the second time in his career. He requested a $5.65 million salary and was offered $4.1 million by the Cubs when figures were exchanged in mid-January.
The Cubs can simply decide to buy out Marmol’s final two arbitration seasons with a two-year contract. Or they can go big, wrapping the Dominican fireballer up through several years of free agency.
The 28-year-old finished with a 2.55 ERA and 38 saves last season for Chicago, fanning 138 batters in 77 2/3 innings for a record 15.99 K/9. He’s entering his prime, by all accounts, and that prime should be a good one.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.