Key Stats: Only Craig Kimbrel had more strikeouts among closers last season than Carlos Marmol. Strikeouts are never the first thing that we think about with relief pitchers, but they might as well be when it comes to draft decisions. Saves are a direct reflection on a team’s ability to win close games. As we’ve seen countless times, bundles of saves can happen from guys like Heath Bell who play on bad teams and Mariano Rivera can go dry on saves if the Yankees are getting blow out wins. Marmol was far from a top tier guy last year in ERA and WHIP, but last season was also well below his career averages. In three of the past five seasons, Marmol has been ranked higher than 117 according to Yahoo.
Skeptics Say: Marmol was the 202nd overall player last season in fantasy baseball and plays at the most volatile position in the game. Last year there was a point in July that he was taken out of the closers role. In that month, Marmol had more walks than innings pitched. For the season, the contact rate against Marmol was up 10% from where it was in 2010. There are a lot of things that can go wrong with a reliever at this pick and a lot of alternatives to consider later in the draft.
Peer Comparison: Last season Jose Valverde was ranked well ahead of Marmol, but that doesn’t mean that Marmol should be taken after Valverde this year. Beyond the fact that Valverde was pitching for a contract, the numbers support Marmol being the better pitcher a year ago.
Valverde: 4.01 xFIP 8.59 K/9 2.03 K:BB 49 saves
Marmol: 3.80 xFIP 12.04 K/9 2.06 K: BB 34 saves
The big descripencies come into play when you consider the saves, ERA, and WHIP of the two players. The only legitimate claim that Valverde has on Marmol is the WHIP, but that gets thrown out when you consider that Marmol struck out enough hitters to still have a better K:BB.
Team Outlook: Theo Epstein let Aramis Ramirez walk to the rival Milwaukee Brewers, but perhaps the Cubs will get their retaliation in taking Prince Fielder. Such a move would actually not work too favorably for Marmol. Fielder would not necessarily create more save opportunities and he is a below average fielder (pun intended).
Projection: Finding consistency at this position is extremely hard to do if your name is not Rivera or Trevor Hoffman (Hall of Fame types). Marmol is not consistent by the definition we use for other positions, but he’s been good for years. He also still isn’t 30 years old.
35 Saves 4 wins 3.15 ERA 1.26 WHIP 105 K in 73 innings