Cubs may give Carlos Marmol another crack at closing

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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.”

Report: Astros offer one-year contract to Charlie Morton

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The Astros have made a contract offer of one year with an option to free agent pitcher Charlie Morton, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports. The amount of the contract offer is not known, but would likely be less than the $17.9 million qualifying offer the Astros failed to make to him.

Morton, 35, had the best season of his career in 2018, going 15-3 with a 3.13 ERA and a 201/64 K/BB ratio in 167 innings. It is likely the peak in what has been a late-career reinvention that started at the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh, persisted through an injury-shortened stint with the Phillies, and continued over the last two years with the Astros. Morton’s delivery, which famously mimics that of the late Roy Halladay, has seen his strikeout rate rise from middling to elite rates while his fastball velocity climbed from the low-90’s to the mid-90’s.

Despite Morton’s reinvention, he is likely going to have to settle for short-term deals due to his age and durability issues. 2018 was the first time in his career he crossed the 30-start threshold.