July 14, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carlos Marmol throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. The Cubs won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Carlos Marmol’s Fate Hangs In The Balance


After what was a rather lackluster season in 2012, Carlos Marmol has reason to be worried that his job is at stake.

And it’s all thanks to a Japanese fella named Kyuji Fujikawa.

Many Cubs fans (myself included) cringed when Marmol would be called to the mound to close out a game last season and for good reason. Marmol had consistency problems for almost the entirety of the year, even losing command of his vicious slider that has made him such a prominent closer within the Cubs’ organisation. Walks were frequent and strikeouts becoming more and more sparse as the season progressed. Many twitter folk deemed it the “Marmol-coaster” for his fluctuations between efficient pitching and downright serving up HRs were becoming greater and greater.

Marmol had even dipped in to AAA baseball at one point in order to collect himself and reestablish his pitch mix. Needless to say, it was a time that we’d all like to forget.

The numbers don’t look too nice either. Marmol had a career low (MLB only) 55.1 total IP posting a 3.42 ERA. These metrics could have been doctored by poor fielding or lack of close opportunities, but recording a 3.98 FIP having faced 247 batters and 61 total games recorded almost instantly nullify that argument. Marmol had ample opportunity to show what he’s made of.

It’s worth nothing that Marmol also threw 15% fewer sliders in 2012 in comparison to 2011, and subsequently threw 15% more fastballs. This is rather peculiar because of Marmol’s reliance on the slider in previous years as an effective strike out pitch. Could this having anything to do with why his BB/9 shot up from 5.84 in 2011 to 7.32 in 2012? Most likely, but it’s irrelevant at this point.

The bottom line is that Marmol was not effective in 2012.

Clearly Epstein and Hoyer have made note of this and are taking steps to rectify this situation. Cue up Kyuji Fujikawa.

Fujikawa has been a prominent closer in the NPB for a long time with a nice heater in the mid 90′s and hasn’t posted an ERA over 2.01 since 2004. The 32 year old has experience, a quality pitch mix and a solid K/9 ratio of ~12. Not only does he bring a talented arm to the Cubs pen, he also bring maturity and a strong work ethic with him – an asset that the Cubs’ brass find essential in their selection processes.

Not to mention the Cubs scored a bargain on his contract. Fujikawa stands to make $9.5 million over 2 years of service along with $2 million in potential performance incentives and a $1 million dollar signing bonus. It’s theoretical pennies on the dollar when you look at his performance and compared to the $9.8 million Marmol is owed in 2013 alone.

While the deal has not been finalized or announced by the team, all reputable sources recognize the deal has been done and is pending physicals. There’s no need for the team to announce the deal publicly until he hits the mound, really.

With a cheaper, more efficient Japanese model coming in and the Winter Meetings set to heat up tomorrow, it’s safe to assume that Carlos Marmol’s closing days in Chicago are numbered – if not finished.

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Tags: 2012 Carlos Marmol Chicago Cubs Closer Kyuji Fujikawa