Cubs standing pat with Carlos Marmol

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Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol imploded yesterday, walking two batters and hitting another to load the bases with no outs in the eighth inning attempting to hold on to a 4-2 lead. Manager Dale Sveum replaced Marmol with Hector Rondon, who allowed all three of Marmol’s runners to score and the Reds eventually went on to win 6-4. Marmol pitched again today, completing a perfect sixth inning.

Marmol’s shaky control is no secret. Entering the season, he was averaging six walks for every nine innings and has the highest walk rate among all relievers (minimum 400 innings) since he came into the league in 2006, his 15 percent well ahead of second-place Fernando Rodney and Kevin Gregg’s 11 percent. This season, he has walked as many as he has struck out (12) in 12.2 innings.

At some point, you would think the Cubs would keep Marmol’s Russian roulette approach away from high-leverage situations, but Sveum is not going to hide him. Via Bruce Miles:

“We’re really in no different situation than we were yesterday,” said manager Dale Sveum.” Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes. But nothing’s changed in that fashion right now. Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch.”

Minor League Baseball had its worst attendance in 14 years

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Baseball American reports today that total attendance at minor league baseball games reached a 14-year low in 2018. Total attendance was 40,450,337. That’s a drop of 1,382,027 fans compared to last season.

Around a third of that drop is attributable to fewer scheduled games but, as Baseball America notes, even when you go to average attendance per game, there was a sharp drop off this season. BA suggests that this represents a leveling off after over a decade’s worth of large increases in minor league attendance. Which sound pretty plausible. Overall, attendance numbers are still massively above where they were 15-20 years ago, so this seems more like a correction than a real problem. The BA article goes into some good analysis of the decline.

All of that said, revenues are up for the minors, in large part because of merchandise sales and because minor league ballparks have a lot more amenities and better concessions than they used to have and fans are willing to pay for them.