At age 23, Carlos Marmol made his major league début with the Cubs as a starter. He was mostly dreadful in 2006, finishing with an ERA over 6.00. Since then, he’s settled in as the setup man and now the closer for the Cubs and for the most part has been very good. Since 2007, he’s averaged over 11 strikeouts per nine innings in each season, finishing in the top ten each season; this year, his strikeout numbers have been absolutely stupid. Here’s a summary of Marmol’s rate statistics for his career, followed by his totals:
|Season||G / GS||IP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||BABIP||LOB%||GB%||HR/FB||FIP||xFIP|
|2006||19 / 13||77.0||6.90||6.90||1.64||0.265||70.2%||28.9%||11.8%||6.47||6.22|
|2007||59 / 0||69.1||12.46||4.54||0.39||0.276||91.0%||31.3%||3.9%||2.72||3.67|
|2008||82 / 0||87.1||11.75||4.23||1.03||0.185||78.1%||34.6%||9.9%||3.62||3.71|
|2009||79 / 0||74.0||11.31||7.91||0.24||0.262||77.7%||35.8%||2.6%||4.06||5.13|
|2010||21 / 0||22.2||17.47||5.56||0.40||0.376||90.9%||34.3%||7.7%||2.06||2.27|
|Season||ERA||SV / BS||IP||TBF||H||HR||BB||IBB||HBP||SO||H/9|
|2006||6.08||0 / 0||77.0||356||71||14||59||2||5||59||8.3|
|2007||1.43||1 / 1||69.1||285||41||3||35||3||4||96||5.3|
|2008||2.68||7 / 2||87.1||348||40||10||41||3||6||114||4.1|
|2009||3.41||15 / 4||74.0||335||43||2||65||3||12||93||5.2|
|2010||1.59||9 / 2||22.2||96||13||1||14||0||3||44||5.3|
Marmol has always had issues throwing strikes, particularly in 2009. He got away with it (mostly) by not allowing home runs and being a little lucky. What really strikes me though is that with such high strikeout and walk rates, there is a lot of walking at the end of plate appearances against Marmol (either to first base or back to the dugout).
A couple of weeks ago, Dave A. at FanGraphs noted that Brandon Morrow, Clayton Kershaw, and Rich Harden lead starting pitchers in keeping the ball out of play via walks, strikeouts, and hit batters. They had “Ball-Not-In-Play” percentages in the lows 40s. Check out Marmol’s career, and in particular, his start to 2010:
This year he’s moving away from his fastball and moved toward his slider more and more. He’s also throwing harder (almost a full mile per hour faster than any previous season) and batters are not making contact with anything. O-Contact % is the percentage of pitches that are hit that aren’t strikes (that a hitter swings at), and Z-contact % is the percentage of pitches that are hit that are strikes. Hitters are hitting only 60% of the pitches they swing at, 20% below the major league average; he also leads the league by almost 5%.
It’s easy to see from his Pitchf/x data that Marmol might not have any idea where the ball is going when he throws it. It’s almost impossible to keep up what he’s doing, but after watching him walk a Ranger and strike three out in the 9th inning during Sunday’s game, it sure seemed to me that some good major league hitters simply don’t have much of a chance against him right now.