It sounds like Cubs manager Dale Sveum is just about ready to give Carlos Marmol another chance in the closer role just a week after stripping him of ninth-inning duties.
“I would be lying to you if he wasn’t working his way back into it,” Sveum told Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. “He is throwing strikes and he is throwing his slider more and he’s more consistent. So, yeah, he’s working his way back. That was part of the deal.”
It also helps Marmol’s cause that potential replacement closer Kyuji Fujikawa is now on the disabled list and Shawn Camp blew a save Sunday. In the meantime Marmol has thrown four scoreless innings since the demotion, although with three strikeouts compared to two walks he hasn’t exactly been dominant.
And for whatever it’s worth Jeff Samardzija voiced his support for turning back to Marmol, saying: “We have a closer. Marmol’s our guy.”
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.