After last November’s botched Carlos Marmol-Dan Haren trade, I thought the Cubs had blown their only opportunity to trade the wild-throwing closer. Then, last week, I read that the Cubs had informed Marmol’s agent to expect a trade. I couldn’t believe how much he had declined since the 2010 season in which he boasted a WHIP of 1.18 and a strikeout percentage of 41.6. After looking at the numbers, I could see a trend in the past three seasons.
Marmol is not getting the swinging strikes he used to get earlier in his career. More specifically, he isn’t getting first-pitch strikes (F-Strike%) and swinging strikes at pitches outside of the strike zone (O-Swing%). Looking at his 2012 F-Strike% of 47.8, Marmol is pitching behind in the count to more than half of the batters he faced, unlike in 2010 where he was ahead of nearly two-thirds of the batters he faced. A declining O-Swing% tells me that his slider is not as effective as it was in 2010, when batters were swinging at more than a quarter of his pitches that were outside of the strike zone.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, if this amateur can look at some numbers and graphs and determine this trend, a well-paid team sabermetrician can definitely see this. In the end, the Cubs will never get the value for Marmol that he once had, as recently as 2010. But, I will never forget the amount of movement Marmol’s slider had in 2010, and I’m sure I’m not alone.