About that Cubs Closer Battle

I recently purchased a copy of the...I know, a little late to the party...but it does a great job of presenting information that isn't readily available, information I'll pass along as they become relevant throughout the season. I'm also going to get a subscription to BillJames.net to update everyone as the season progresses.

But thumbing through the book they have all kinds of stats on relievers and let's see if any of it will help Lou pick his closer on the year.

James has a piece on the "21st Century Bullpen" and goes on about how the modern day bullpen has changed drastically over the last 10 years or so and in a very Jamesian way, goes about reclassifying it and includes 21 categories in total ranging from easy to tough saves, clean outings and so forth. I'm not going to republish all his work, but here's some of the relevant ones. Of course, I'm going to have to explain some of these first.

Consecutive Days - A count of how many times a pitcher has thrown on back-to-back days or games in the rare case of a double-header.

Long Outings - Outings of 25 or more pitches

Leverage Index -A to account for the game situation. 1.00 is average.

Easy Saves - Saves where the first batter a reliever faces does not represent the tying or winning run and there are three outs or less remaining; 58% of all saves are easy and relievers come through on 87% of them.

Regular Saves - not an easy or tough save; 37% of all saves are regular saves and they are converted 57% of the time

Tough Saves - reliever enters with the potential tying or winning run on base; 5% of all saves are tough saves and they're converted 22% of the time. For the three save types, you'll see something like 15-17 which means 15 converted saves of that type in 17 of those opportunities.

Clean Outing - a game in which the reliever is not charged with a run and does not allow an inherited runner to score.

Save/Hold Percentage - We're use to seeing save percentage but it discriminates against anyone that isn't a closer since they rarely get saves to boost that percentage. So instead James adds up holds and save.

Player Cons
Long 
Leverage
IR % Easy
Reg
Tough
Games Clean
Sv/Hld Pct
Opp OPS
Gregg 20 13  2.1 .07 15-17 10-16 4-5 72 54 .79 .585
Marmol 27 17  1.5 .21 4-5 2-3 1-1 82 59 .95 .508
Wood 19 11  2.0 .17 21-24 13-16 0-0 65 50 .85 .632

 

So I was probably a as the Marlins certainly put his feet to the fire a lot more than Lou did with Kerry. Gregg did tie for the league lead in blown saves with 9(with Manny Corpas), but he also tied for the league lead in tough saves with 4 (with Brian Wilson). Kerry had the 5th highest NL total in Easy Saves and 4th in regular saves (Gregg was 7th in regular saves). Also, Gregg came in with 15 runners on base, allowing just one of them to score all year, while Wood entered a game with just 12 inherited runners, allowing 2 of them to score.

Kerry did have a pretty unfortunate run of bad luck when you look at that above link and his BABIP numbers, so I still have little doubt that he'll be a better pitcher than Gregg this year (enters keyboard shortcut for "if healthy). But no reason to keep revisiting that argument as Wood is a Cleveland Indian and it's Kevin Gregg versus Carlos Marmol for the closer job.

In terms of their rank among other pitchers, Marmol's 27 outings on consecutive days was the tied for the fifth most in the majors and of course he led the NL with 30 Holds (second to Scott Shields in the majors with 31). Marmol actually dominates most of the NL leaderboards in the book.

10th in Inherited Runners Scored % with a minimum of 30 IR - 21.3% (Cotts was 9th, Eyre was 6th and Ohman 2nd for what it's worth)

3rd in Relief Opponent OBP - .251

1st in Relief Opponent SLG - .257 (Gregg was third at .271)

10th in Relief Opponent BA versus lefties - .182

1st in Relief Opponent BA versus righties and overall - .098 and .135

1st in Relief OBP 1st Batter Faced - .185

1st in Relief Opponent BA w/ Runners On - .148

2nd in Relief Opponent BA w/ RISP - .133

1st in Strikeout/Hit Ratio - 2.85 (Harden was 2nd with 2.28)

1st in Opponent OPS vs Slider - .302 

So what does this all mean? Well I think Carlos Marmol is kind of good at pitching...can we all agree on that? As for who should be the closer, I don't think the Cubs can go wrong on this decision. Lou isn't going to let the front office dictate his decision, but from a payroll standpoint, letting Gregg close will keep Marmol's arbitration dollars down a little longer and make Gregg more attractive if he becomes a free agent at the end of the year and the Cubs could get two draft picks assuming he's a Type A free agent. Pitchers, managers and fans generally like the defined roles in the bullpen and I don't think there's any doubt that you'd rather have Marmol coming in to escape those 7th and 8th innning jams over Gregg. If you give Marmol the closer job, Lou will hesitate on using him before the 9th and that's probably not the best use of such a dynamic pitcher. Ideally, the two players wouldn't care what innings they pitched and Lou would bring in Marmol in the toughest of situations whether it's the 7th, 8th or 9th. But that's not the reality of today's game so I'll be hoping that announcement from Lou later this week will be that Kevin Gregg is the 2009 closer.

Comments

THT's 5 Questions about the Cubs, some weirdness about Lilly having a career year in 2008, apparently 2007 didn't happen.

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/cub...

Viva El Birdos preview http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2009/3/26/810729/...

claimed off waivers by the Indians...

The Injuns are becoming the new Orioles with their ex-Cubs.

cubs pre-season baseball on MLB Network at 10:30 eastern.

This is useful. I was definitely leaning toward Marmol but I guess we could give Gregg a try. I was thinking that Gregg would be a good set-up man but if Marmol can more outs and be more durable in the setup role that is Ok.

An argument for Gregg as set up man: He'll probably get used more. If one of their arms gets blown out, I'd rather it not be Marmol's, who would presumably get into fewer games as a closer than as a set up man. Lou brought in Marmol whenever he badly needed an out late in the game. If he does that again this year I smell injury or wear out. That said, it's not a huge issue for me. They both seem like they'll get the job done.

lou brought marmol in almost any time he felt like it no matter the lead or protection. he worked 1/2 the games last year. the last few weeks before eyre was shipped off marmol was warmed with eyre many times and marmol came in anyway...even in a couple games the cubs had in hand. marmol's use in august was just plain weird, imo.

Speaking of Scott Eyre...

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_s... season tickets are down close to 50% already, if they don't get off to a hot start or walk-up ticket sales are way down, they may need to start shedding contracts. they'll probably be a few of those stories as the year goes on...

im still amazed how big their payroll is for a mid-market team.

Either's a good choice, but the closer role is so defined, that I'd rather have Gregg there. Marmol's the more talented pitcher and he can be brought in when he's really needed.

I don't think it's always about who is the better pitcher. I like Marmol setting up Gregg knowing that Marmol is probably the better pitcher.

sori, font, lee, bradley, rami, Johnson, soto, riot, marshall. Zito starting for the Giants I believe...

nice! a lineup worth watching.

Parachat?

always open...doubtful I'll be there myself though.

I'm off tomorrow.

I'll be there at some point.

staying back in Mesa tonight, will start tomorrow says Miles

cubs.com says Fukudome is starting. Let me guess who's not right.

Good call.

Since I have to get up for work at 4 AM, I say boo on 9:30 start times. I'll probably catch a couple of innings before heading to bed, at least catch some of the starters.

Pretty much agree with your reasons on the Gregg/Marmol thing. I do think Marmol's going to become human this year, though. He had that great BABIP number last year, and the history of 5'10" guys who K 1.4 guys an inning just isn't there to make me think he can keep it up forever.

Carlos Marmol is listed at 6'2", though I still think that high a K-rate would be very difficult to sustain, as would his BABIP numbers.

i'd be more worried about his sketchy control, imo. for all the bats he misses and the defenders the batted balls find, his control is rarely good.

He's certainly due to give back some, a .185 BABIP just isn't reasonable even for a reliever, but I wouldn't be surprised if HR/9 rate went down as well to offset some of that. Marmol's listed at 6-2" on the four sites I just looked at...

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  • Charlie 6 hours 1 min ago (view)

    This is baseball.

    This is the sport we like.

     

  • crunch 7 hours 57 min ago (view)

    top 9th, 1 out, men on 1st/2nd...alec mills steps to the plate.

    they're down by 13 runs.  i want to end this, too.

     

  • Wrigley Rat 9 hours 4 min ago (view)

    Really good stuff here from Marty Pevey (Iowa Cubs Manager, Acting Manager of South Bend): https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/sports/bas...

     

  • Eric S 9 hours 53 min ago (view)

    If Chatwood can provide two excellent starts for each turkey I can live with that

     

  • crunch 9 hours 59 min ago (view)

    i dont like august 6th, 2020 chatwood.

    i've liked other recent versions, though.

     

  • Arizona Phil 10 hours 5 min ago (view)

    Without an actual minor league season to use for evaluation purposes, I think the likely Cubs 40-man roster adds on 11/20 will be from this group and probably in this order (and no more than seven, possibly eight): 

     

  • crunch 10 hours 19 min ago (view)

    this digital crowd is creepy as hell.  at least it's not for the whole game.

     

  • Arizona Phil 13 hours 26 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed veteran RHRP Kelvin Herrera to a minor league contract and he has been added to the Cubs MLB Club Player Pool and has been assigned to the Cubs Practice Squad in South Bend.  

    Herrera was released by the White Sox last Sunday, so he should be ready to roll right away if he is needed. 

     

  • bradsbeard 14 hours 34 min ago (view)

    Tommy Birch with the Des Moines Register just interviewed Martin Peavy about what's going on at South Bend. Some intriguing updates on some of the prospects down there as well as details about what they are doing. They could really use Short for scrimmage purposes  

     

  • Eric S 15 hours 47 min ago (view)

    Thanks, AZ Phil!

     

  • Arizona Phil 16 hours 20 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: I doubt that any club will go below 14 pitchers (with at least nine relievers), and the Cubs could go up to 15 (or 16) pitchers once Jose Quintana (and Brad Wieck) return, especially if the Cubs eventually go with a six-man rotation (as I suspect they will, given the heavy work-load the SP will need to provide what with the questionable bullpen).

     

  • bradsbeard 16 hours 26 min ago (view)

    Interesting. That's good to know for roster construction purposes. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 16 hours 45 min ago (view)

    ERIC S: Other than assigning one catcher (who can serve as a bullpen catcher) to the Taxi Squad at home game, the Taxi Squad can only be used on road trips  

    On the Cubs trip to Cincinnati last week, the Cubs definitely carried catcher Jose Lobaton, INF-OF Hernan Perez, and an unnamed pitcher (probably Colin Rea, because he was recalled while the Cubs were still in Cincinnati).

     

  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 44 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARDE: The limit on the number of pitchers who can be on a club's MLB Active List roster (which was going to be 13 on a 26-man roster if CoViD-19 hadn't happened) has been suspended and so clubs can carry as many pitcherrs as they wish in 2020. 

     

  • Arizona Phil 17 hours 47 min ago (view)

    The thing with Zack Short not being assigned to the Cubs MLB Club Player Pool (and to the Practice Squad) is odd, because he would have been one of only two legit MLB-ready (or near MLB-ready) shortstops on the Practice Squad (utility man Hernan Perez being the other one). So now al they have is H. Perez.  

    It can't be because of roster limit concerns because they could have left off Christopher Morel or ine of the younger pitchers to make room for Z. Short. 

     

  • bradsbeard 17 hours 52 min ago (view)

    Not Phil and I don't know what the South Bend guys are doing besides scrimaging or live BP. But I do know Short is not there (I'm still not sure why he's not there other than trying not to use up all the roster space available).