Carlos Marmol is back as the Cubs’ closer

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Carlos Marmol notched his first save since May 2 yesterday against the Red Sox, but in typical Marmol-fashion, it wasn’t easy.

Marmol gave up a one-out single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Mike Aviles reached on a fielding error by third baseman Luis Valbuena. He then struck out Daniel Nava looking before walking Scott Podsednik to load the bases. However, he was able to get Dustin Pedroia to ground out to end it.

While the appearance hardly inspires confidence moving forward, Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed after the game that the erratic right-hander will continue to serve as the closer. According to Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune, Sveum said he made the move “to solidify the bullpen somewhat.” No word on if he said that with a straight face. Then again, the Cubs don’t have many great options in their bullpen right now.

Marmol has an ugly 5.79 ERA and 21/22 K/BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings this season, including a 4.91 ERA and 9/6 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings since returning from a hamstring strain at the end of May. Moving him back to the closer role is a way to showcase him for a potential trade, but given that he’s making $7 million this season and $9.8 million next year, that’s going to be a pretty tough sell.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.