The Cubs got lucky and tallied two runs in the fourth inning thanks to a Marlins error, and starting pitcher Ryan Dempster tossed a gem of a game to make the slim lead hold up. He only allowed four hits and strike out nine while not helping the Marlins with any walks. The Cubs got the dominant performance that you expect to see from a staff ace. He was hot in a good way; not the fuming, competitor that butted heads with manager Mike Quade when he was pulled early in his last start.
The quality start was reminiscent of the complete game he was shooting for against the Giants a couple starts ago. Unfortunately, Carlos Marmol almost blew it again for Dempster as the closer did against the Giants in that start. The Cubs did go on to win that game thanks to the walk off heroics of Aramis Ramirez, but the short hook for Marmol on Friday afternoon allowed for Sean Marshall to come in for the 27th out and nail down his second save of the 2011 season.
The short hook comes on the heels of the disaster Cubs fans had to witness on Thursday night, when Marmol proceeded to walk the bases full before blowing the save and costing the Cubs the game after a stellar start by Matt Garza. In that failed save attempt, Marmol added insult to injury when he failed to properly back up catcher Geo Soto on a play the plate for the go ahead run. The relay throw had skipped past Soto and had Marmol been in place, a quick flip toss attempt could have been made to try to nail the runner.
Jordan went into some detail on the numbers reflecting Marmol’s struggles, and the slump in July has to be concerning considering the closer just signed a three year deal prior to the season. This is not the first time Marmol has relied too heavily on his filthy slider, but this latest slide by the reliever makes pitching coach Mark Riggins look like he has less influence on Marmol than former coach Larry Rothschild did.
Marmol is actually on pace to be just short of the career high 38 saves he collected in 2010. But he has also already blown more saves (seven) than he did all of last season (five). In years past Marmol would play with fire by creating the jam at times before producing a Houdini magic act to escape out of it, but it seems during this recent slide that living on the edge has caught up to him.
With the team overall struggling along with him, fans may call for his head to be put on the trading block along with the other Cubs rumored to be available, but this would be the wrong time to deal him as his value is questionable due to the current struggles. Only time will tell on how long Quade goes with Marmol’s demotion from the closer role. But if the Cubs still plan on trying to contend in 2012, they might as well let Marmol work out the kinks in the 2011 season that is already lost.