In case you hadn’t noticed, Spring Training Battlewatch has come to a close. With fewer and fewer battles remaining, it’s time to focus on the specific battles remaining.
The closer competition is entering its final stages. Manager Lou Piniella had previously said he expected to announce the closer by the end of last week, but that never came to pass.
Now Lou says he wants to see combatants Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg throw on back to back days before he makes a decision. Marmol threw yesterday, and may very well throw again today.
Yesterday, Gregg got the better of Marmol – and Gregg didn’t even throw.
Though most have made far too much of one World Baseball Classic blown save, Marmol has not quite been as sharp as Gregg this Spring. Yesterday, Marmol gave up a home run, a walk, a single, and hit a guy. Still, Marmol’s Spring ERA stands at 2.57, and he’s given up just four hits and one walk in seven innings, while striking out nine.
Gregg, too, has struck out nine in just over seven innings, and only given up four hits and one walk. But Gregg hasn’t yet given up an earned run.
As things stand, the winner of the closer competition would have to be Gregg, even if the Cubs didn’t have a financial incentive to choose him. Marmol is the better pitcher, but Gregg may very well be the better closer.