Carlos Marmol has had back-to-back miserable outings. Worse, he’s clearly frustrated by the struggles, suggesting that it’s not just a matter of him “working on stuff.”
… but it’s just two outings. And it’s Spring. In Arizona. Where Marmol’s best pitch – his devastating slider – is virtually useless.
So, should we panic? No. Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum certainly isn’t. And he went on, at length, to explain why.
“Breaking balls like his aren’t going to do a whole lot here in Arizona,” Sveum said, according to ESPN. “You’re always going to struggle with it, and you’re going to throw it harder and make it spin more and it’s actually a counter effect.
“But I think all along we want him to get his fastball command, [that] is the biggest thing. We know the breaking ball will come back when we head back north. Just mainly getting the fastball, getting work and throwing strikes with the fastball.
“He’s been working as hard as he ever has. The people that have been around him know that he has been working as hard as he ever has. It’s a confidence thing. Don’t try to crank the breaking ball. It’s not going to work in Arizona. There’s no air here.
“Nobody’s breaking balls really break here, that’s why you see a lot of 15-14 games. There are a lot of fastballs and a lot of breaking balls that don’t break that much. He’s just got to be careful to get frustrated with that.”
Sveum doth protest too much? I don’t think so. I think it’s a legitimate explanation, even if a mildly concerning one. You’d like to think your closer could at least still throw strikes, even if he’s limited to throwing a fastball.
The issue there might be mechanical, and Sveum says the Cubs continue to work on it.
“The adjustments are the adjustments,” Sveum said. “But we have to be able to do that out on the mound when we know, ‘The first pitch of the inning I fly right open and the ball goes up and away, and I have to get right back on the mound and make that adjustment.’ Those adjustments have to be made, but we have to slow it down and be able to do it on the mound.”
As long as Marmol is healthy, I don’t plan to be particularly worried until the regular season starts.
When Marmol walks the first two guys after coming on for his first save of the year…