Cubs sticking with Carlos Marmol after another ugly outing

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After being yanked from his first save chance of the season Cubs closer Carlos Marmol escaped another mess with a save yesterday, but it wasn’t pretty as he allowed three hits and one walk before Neil Walker did him a huge favor by grounding into a game-ending double play.

Despite the back-to-back ugly outings manager Dale Sveum reiterated that he’s sticking with Marmol as closer, telling Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago: “I’m not doing anything. We’re 2-1. Everyone is in the same roles heading into Atlanta.”

It’s worth noting that Marmol went through multiple rough patches last season and had an ERA as high as 5.61 in mid-July, but then finished the year with a 1.52 ERA and 39 strikeouts in his final 30 innings. What makes Marmol so maddening to watch is that he’s capable of dominant stretches, but with Kyuji Fujikawa looming as an obvious replacement it’s hard to imagine Sveum having a ton of patience.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.