The Cubs designated Carlos Marmol for assignment on Wednesday, along with dumping the disgrunted Ian Stewart. Of the former’s recent struggles at Wrigley, agent Paul Kinzer commented, “It’s tough being booed every time you get on the mound”, though perhaps not as tough as watching Marmol throw a dozen consecutive pitches out of the strike zone. Of course, long before public confidence ebbed and Marmol lost command, Bleed Cubbie Blue’s Al Yellon is quick to point out the reliever was, for a stretch, “very close to the best, if not the best, relief pitcher in the major leagues. ”
Only Charlie Root, in a different time and way of pitcher use, appeared in more games in a Cubs uniform than Carlos Marmol (605 to 483). Marmol ranks third on the all-time Cubs save list with 117, behind only Bruce Sutter and Lee Smith (for perspective, Marmol’s save total ranks 106th on the all-time list, tied with B.J. Ryan). Smith, Sutter, Randy Myers and Marmol are the only pitchers to have more than one 30-save season in a Cubs uniform. Marmol has struck out 11.67 batters per nine innings in his career; only two pitchers in major-league history with as many career innings as Marmol (542?) have had more — Brad Lidge and Billy Wagner. If only Marmol could have had as much success as those guys.
In 2008, now setting up for Kerry Wood, he posted an WHIP of 0.927 — and gave up just 40 hits in 87? innings, although 10 of those hits were home runs, perhaps a foreboding. In August 2009, after several Gregg blown saves, Marmol was installed as closer. He posted 11 saves without a blown save from August 23 through season’s end, and the closer’s job was his in 2010. The 2010 Cubs weren’t very good, but that wasn’t Marmol’s fault — he was dominant. Beyond breaking Sutter’s team record for most K’s by a relief pitcher (shattering it, really, with 138 in 77? innings), he allowed just 40 hits and had a 1.185 WHIP in those innings. Hitters just couldn’t get around on Marmol’s fastball or hit his slider — he faced 332 batters in 2010, and just 134 of them even managed to put the ball in play. He gave up just one home run that year and posted 38 saves, with just five blown saves (and only two of those after the All-Star break).