It was clear after two games that the most reliable pitcher in the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen right now is Sean Marshall. Why, then, was Lou Piniella consistently using Marshall early in games – soon after the starter had been smacked around? Whatever the reason, Piniella has had a change of heart, and will look to use Marshall in more crucial late-game situations. He also says that youngster, and fellow lefty, James Russell will get a look in later innings.
“Marshall is a real nice option for us right now in the eighth inning,’’ said Piniella, who watched rookie right-hander Esmailin Caridad and veteran John Grabow struggle in the eighth much of the first week.
“We can use him that way. He’s throwing the ball as well as [anyone] we have in the bullpen.’’
Marshall has allowed just one hit in four appearances, without a walk, and nine of his 15 outs have been strikeouts.
Russell has pitched only twice, but also hasn’t allowed a run and, as important, has stayed away from the walks that have plagued others in the pen.
“We’ve been holding him back a little bit,’’ Piniella said of former All-Star pitcher Jeff Russell’s son. “He’s throwing the ball well. So we’re going to give him an opportunity, too.’’
The bullpen has 12 of the team’s 22 walks in about half (17 1/3) as many innings as the rotation has pitched (32 2/3).
“We need to get one of our right-handers to become a little more productive,’’ Piniella said. “We’ve just got to give them the ball and see what happens.
“We’ve relied basically on what we thought would be our shorter people the first week,’’ he added of Caridad and Grabow. “Those were the plans we had coming out of spring training. And certainly you don’t chuck them after a few days. You stay with it. But, boy, all these games that we’re playing that are close, there’s never any respite. You can’t rest anybody. So we’re going to have to incorporate a few more people into the thing and see how it works out.’’ CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
Lou is quite right that he must find an effective righty in the pen besides closer Carlos Marmol. But for now, he will have to go with the hot hand, and give the ball to guys he knows will throw strikes, and will give the Cubs a meaningful chance to stay in games.