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Carlos Marmol's wild Thursday ride might have been the breaking point for Dale Sveum, who after backing the right-hander's job security said following today's contest, "There's definitely the thought of (a change) now. I can't lie to you."
The Chicago Cubs' manager said righty Rafael Dolis and the club's only southpaw RP, James Russell, are his main options if Marmol is ousted. Note that there was no explanation that one has an advantage.
Dolis teases a closer profile with peripherals that recall an early Matt Lindstrom: velocity hovering in the mid- to upper 90s but with a lack of translated K's; he has only three in 14 frames this year. He pitches to contact and suppresses dingers. His two-seamer carries his approach, which also includes a four-seamer, slider and curveball.
Unfortunately, his walk rate is quite reminiscent of the man he's in line to depose, and the fact he can't count on his heat to record punchouts compounds the risk involved here. Sveum wants his closer to throw strikes; when you consider batted balls, that notion works for Dolis, but he has trouble putting it past opponents.
Russell, meanwhile, also walks a bit too many but has a better K/9. His fly-ball allowance could be problematic, but he hasn't allowed a run in 7 2/3 frames, thanks in part to increased two-seamer usage and settling into a relief role. He doesn't throw hard, instead relying on deception. Righty sticks do significantly more damage against him, potentially limiting him to matchup work.
Absent in Sveum's proclamation was Kerry Wood, who was activated from the DL earlier today. Does Sveum like keeping Wood in the setup role? They wanted to ease him into important innings after he came back, so maybe he'd get consideration down the road given his experience as a closer.
Maybe Michael Bowden gets involved down the road. The righty, whom Chicago acquired for Marlon Byrd, was a prospect during Theo Epstein's Boston Red Sox reign. He was a role tweener and has now settled in as a middle reliever.
If we're to believe Sveum's statements, Dolis' right-handedness gives him a slight edge over Russell. But committing serious dollars or a high waiver priority to either could easily backfire. If they boot Marmol, this reeks of a committee. Egads.
All things equal, Wood is the best option, especially since he's not an optimal choice to pitch multiple innings; Dolis and Russell fit that bill. But considering Wood's fragility and recent return from the sidelines, he might not get a sufficient window to contribute. If you can wait this out, you're probably better off throwing spaghetti at Wood and hope it sticks.
Tread carefully. We'll help you out as we hear more.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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