Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is striking out batters at an amazing rate.
It might seem like something out of a Hollywood script or the latest iteration of your baseball video game of choice, but there's a pitcher out there who's recorded nearly two thirds of his outs via the strikeout this season. What's more, he's not Sidd Finch's younger brother, nor has he been toying with immature batters in the low minors. He's as real as you or I, and has accomplished his heroics at the highest level (well, OK, so maybe just the National League). I'm talking, of course, about Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who boasts an incredible 16.9 K/9 through his first 45 1/3 innings of work in 2010. The breeze off of Lake Michigan may be responsible for Chicago's "Windy City" moniker, but opposing batters have been generating gale-force winds of their own with Marmol on the mound.
Marmol has faced 197 batters, and struck out an almost unfathomable 85 (43.1%). To put that into perspective, the man has walked nearly seven batters per nine, a rate that would ticket almost any other pitcher for a bus back to the bush leagues, and still sports a respectable 2.6 K/BB ratio, better than those of CC Sabathia, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Johan Santana, to name just a few Cy Young hopefuls. No fewer than 54 pitchers have thrown at least (and in most cases, significantly more than) twice as many innings as Marmol without equaling his strikeout total; Carl Pavano has more than tripled Marmol's innings pitched total, and still fallen short of his strikeout tally.
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is on his way to setting a record for least contact allowed in a season.
As you may have noticed, Stephen Strasburg made his major-league debut last night. While the MLB Network crew virtually doused themselves in superlatives and set themselves on fire before, during and after the broadcast, Strasburg managed to live up to the hype, earning his first win and striking out 14 batters in seven innings without allowing a walk. The interwebs are rife with tales of Strasburg’s poise, his triple-digit fastball, and the command he displayed with his four-pitch arsenal.
When it comes to people in possession of rare opposite superhero powers, will they make a movie about Joel Pineiro and Carlos Marmol?
Unless you're a Cubs fan looking for a on-two-three ninth inning, it's hard to beat Carlos Marmol for sheer baseball entertainment. Chicago's current closer is nothing short of a spectacle, as he delivers to the plate, arms and legs flailing like he's some sort of marionette. Marmol's wicked fastball/slider combination is frequently unhittable and often uncontrollable, with significant late movement that often fools hitters, catchers, and umpires alike. When he has command of his fastball and throws his slider for strikes, he can be completely dominant... and even when he can't, he's still difficult to hit. But this season Marmol's act has too frequently devolved into an uncanny Nuke LaLoosh impression.
The four teams still standing have a few rookies and mid-season call-ups to thank for it.
Perhaps in Jim Hendry's perfect world, Carlos Marmol would have never been in the bullpen to relieve Carlos Zambrano in Game One. Similarly, Josh Byrnes would have never had an infield containing Augie Ojeda and Game One hero Mark Reynolds backing up Brandon Webb. Franklin Morales and Kyle Kendrick weren't supposed to be major leaguers in 2007, much less matched up against one another as Game Two starters in a Division Series. Heck, names like Asdrubal and Joba weren't supposed to become known in Cleveland and New York in 2007.
Strokes of tactical genius, roster design mishaps, and some flat-out brilliant pitching performances.
Three baseball games, five good to great starts, and just 14 runs scored, with the high mark being six. When you get this much starting pitching, it limits the amount of tactics displayed, and subsequently, the topics to write about. Let's go to the videotape…
The league's best-record playoff team against its worst, but you might be surprised who the favorite really should be.
Who would have thunk that we'd see the Diamondbacks playing the Cubs in a postseason series? Well, you'd might have thunk it if you'd done been reading PECOTA, which predicted both of these mild surprises. That not withstanding, this is not the even matchup that you might expect from two teams that took until the last weekend of the season to confirm their date at the prom. One of these clubs, if fact, has no excuse for losing.