Rafael Dolis Removed From Closer’s Role


May 23, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Rafael Dolis (48) pitches against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

When Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum relieved Carlos Marmol of his closing duties, I was one to support Rafael Dolis as Marmol’s replacement. At the time, I stated it would make more sense for the Cubs to allow Dolis to progress through his struggles as the team’s closer instead of watching Marmol struggle.  Reason being, Dolis has the potential to be the team’s closer in the future and Marmol is not likely to be a part of the Cubs’ organization after the 2012 season.

Dolis has tested that theory.

In 22 games this season, Dolis has an ERA of 4.97 to go along with a WHIP of 1.42. Dolis also has 4 saves on the season, though, he has blown two saves. The trouble with Dolis comes when compare his strikeouts to his walks. Dolis has 11 strikeouts on the season, but the reliever has walked 15 batters. A strikeout to walk ratio like the one that Dolis has is certainly not acceptable. For that reason, Sveum announced on Sunday that Dolis is no longer the team’s closer.

Though, there is an interesting thought when thinking about the Cubs closer position. This thought was first brought up by Barry Rozner during “Hit and Run”–the weekly baseball radio show on 670 The Score. Rozner suggested in order to be the team’s closer, one would need to be in a save opportunity. Considering the Cubs have been in the middle of a 11 game losing streak, the save opportunities for Dolis have been few and far between.

That is the same argument that starting pitcher Ryan Dempster brought up when he was asked about Carlos Marmol being demoted as the team’s closer. The argument does have some merit. A relief pitcher is accustomed to getting an opportunity on a daily basis. For Marmol and Dolis, the time in between appearance is likely contributing to the problems that the Cubs closers have experienced this season. But now the challenge to close out games will shift over to a new pair of pitchers.

Sveum told reporters on Sunday that both James Russell and Shawn Camp will have an opportunity to close out games for the Cubs. Russell is the only left handed in the Cubs’ bullpen and has had an effective season. Russell has an ERA of 1.74 through 22 games this season. Meanwhile, Camp has an ERA of 2.84 through 25.1 innings of work this season. With Russell being the only left hander in the Cubs’ bullpen, I get the sense that Camp will receive the bulk of the save opportunities for the Cubs.

I would also think that Carlos Marmol will have the opportunity to return to the closer’s role once he is activated from the disabled list. Marmol does not have a future with the Cubs, and the Cubs front office needs to trade the 29 year old reliever as soon as they can. In order for the team to do so, Marmol would have to increase his trade value. For that happen, Marmol will have to prove he is capable of being an effective closer once again.

Marmol is currently on a rehab assignment with the Iowa Cubs, and should be activated within the coming week.