Tagged: Carlos Marmol

Another Look at the Value of Starters vs. Relievers

By Eriq Gardner //

How do you measure an elite closer versus an elite starter in drafts?
For those who see closers as largely one-category contributors, the answer is you don’t. You measure a closer’s stability and job security and make a determination whether that closer is going to produce enough saves to justify picking one in high rounds versus a lesser closer in late rounds. Often that formula yields the conclusion that it’s imprudent to invest much in fickle relievers.
As we tried to show last year, though, closers can contribute just as strongly as starters in ERA and WHIP. 
This topic comes up every year, however, and can lead to a lot of puzzlement. In response to our post last week on safe draft bargains, one reader questioned whether Carlos Marmol should really be ranked ahead of elite starters like Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, and CC Sabathia.
Keep in mind that there’s always a margin of error when it comes to projections. The degree of confidence that the 48th ranked player will best the 49th ranked player in value by the season’s end is small. Still, the question of whether Marmol and Verlander belong in the same ballpark is definitely a valid one. 
Having considered the relative value of a starter’s ERA/WHIP vs. a reliever’s ERA/WHIP last year, let’s take a look at another category in the equation — strikeouts. 
Bloomberg Sports projects Carlos Marmol to have 105 strikeouts (most among closers) and Justin Verlander to have 198 strikeouts (second most among starters) in 2011. Both projections are on the conservative side. Bloomberg cuts 33 strikeouts from Marmol’s 2010 total and 21 strikeouts from Verlander’s 2010 total.
At first glance, Verlander’s 198 projected strikeouts seems to be more valuable than Marmol’s 105 strikeouts, but is that really true? Or stated another way, is a 200-K starter more special than a 100-K reliever?
In a standard 12-team 5×5 league, there will typically be about 60 starters drafted, or about five per team. According to Bloomberg’s projections, the average top-60 starter will have 159 strikeouts. This means that Verlander is projected to have about a 40 strikeout advantage over an average starter. That’s the difference between Verlander and someone like Ricky Romero, both in Bloomberg’s projections and 2010 totals.
How does Marmol compare to other closers? Bloomberg projects that among the 30 players projected with at least 5 saves this coming season, the average closer’s strikeout total will be 64. This means that Marmol is projected to have a 40 strikeout advantage over an average closer. Keep in mind how conservative this projection represents. Last season, Marmol had more than a 60 strikeout advantage over closers like Jonathan Papelbon, John Axford, and Francisco Rodriguez.
But assuming the projections are valid, it means that if you choose Marmol and Romero instead of Verlander and K-Rod, you should end up with roughly the same amount of strikeouts.
Strikeouts are just one category. There’s obviously ERA and WHIP too, though we think it’s been exaggerated to suggest that a reliever who only appears in about 75 innings as Marmol has the last three seasons can’t have as much value as a starter who appears in 200 innings. Not when the ERA difference is a whole run.
Let’s stipulate to the fact that that projecting wins and saves is pretty tough. No pitcher — this goes for both starters and relievers — can control the situational and opportunity factors like run support that influence a season’s win and save totals. But there are ton of starters who get wins. The number of pitchers who get saves is quite more limited. It’s a scarcer commodity, meaning that even 35 saves is typically worth more in a typical year than 20 wins. 
This is hard for many people to stomach. It’s counterintuitive to everything we know about the value of pitchers in real-life baseball. But pay attention to any fantasy baseball player rater during the course of the season and you’ll notice that top relievers rank right up there with top starters. There’s a reason.
For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

MLB Season in Review: Chicago Cubs Pitchers

By R.J Anderson //

Biggest Surprise: Carlos Silva & Tom Gorzelanny

Silva went from one of the worst pitchers in baseball to a guy with a 10-6 record and 4.22 ERA. Meanwhile Gorzelanny went from unemployable by the Pirates to a 4.09 ERA in 23 starts. The Cubs had a disappointing season, but they managed to turn broken eggs into soufflé twice during the same season. Both pitchers have dealt with injury issues throughout the season, including Gorzelanny breaking a finger and Silva enduring elbow tendinitis in September alone.

Biggest Bust: Carlos Zambrano

Not because he pitched poorly, mind you, but because his temporary stints on the inactive list and in the bullpen wasted away his value and held him to 19 starts.

2011 Keeper Alert: Carlos Marmol

One of the most incredible seasons in baseball this or any season, Marmol’s 77.2 innings pitched come with 138 strikeouts and 40 hits allowed. For his career, Marmol has struck out twice as many batters as hits given up. That’s just unfathomable. The only aspect of his game that prevents Marmol from being perhaps the most dominant reliever in baseball (if he isn’t already) is his tendency to lose the plate: No closer walked more batters more frequently than Marmol (6.03 BB/9 IP – though that was, amazingly, nearly two full walks per game lower than his 2009 mark).

2011 Regression Alert: Carlos Silva

Silva struck out 6.37 batters per nine innings this season. His career rate is a little over four. Maybe he’s discovered the key to fanning heaven, but probably not. Be careful about overvaluing the latest season, even though pitchers like Esteban Loaiza have broken out at a similar age.

For more on the Chicago Cubs, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.

Lou Piniella’s New Nasty Boy: Carlos Marmol

By Tommy Rancel //

Lou Piniella is no stranger to flame-throwing relievers at the back end of his bullpens. As manager of the 1990 World Champion Cincinnati Reds, Piniella employed a trio of relievers, Norm Charlton, Rob Dibble and Randy Myers (a.k.a. the Nasty Boys), to close out games. Twenty years later, Piniella’s current club, the Chicago Cubs, are not World Series contenders, but their closer sure is nasty.


Carlos Marmol is a wild man. He has amazing stuff on the mound. While he owns a fastball that averages velocity in the mid-90s, the heater only serves as a compliment to his devastatingly successful slider. Despite the above-average offerings, he has a tendency to drive Lou (and Cubs) fans absolutely insane with his control issues. Meanwhile, he tiptoes around his shaky control just enough to be wildly successful.

If you looked at walk rate alone, you would think Marmol would be searching for employment rather than being the Cubs’ closer. In 43.1 innings of work this year, he’s handed out 33 free passes. That earns him a walks per nine inning (BB/9) rate of. 6.85! On the other hand, that’s a solid improvement over the 7.91 BB/9(!!) he posted last year – as Marmol walked 65 batters in 74 innings.

In spite of his immensely high walk rate, and a very high batting average on balls in play (.364), Marmol has maintained a sparkling 2.91 ERA, with an even better 2.26 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, which strips out luck, park factors and other elements beyond strikeout, walk and home run rates). Despite allowing 1.32 base runners per inning, he is stranding 79.2% of batters who reach base. All of these statistical oddities are made possible because Carlos Marmol will strike you out. In fact, he will strike you out and the guy behind you.

Marmol has struck out an unthinkable 83 batters in his 43.1 innings. Yes, he is striking out nearly two batters for every inning he pitches, 17.05 per nine innings, to be precise. If he maintains that insane pace throughout the course of the season, it would be a major league record for a reliever with a minimum of 50 innings pitched (Eric Gagne 14.98 K/9 in 2003).


The high amount of strikeouts and walks have severely limited the balls in play hit against Marmol. In fact, Marmol gets a swinging strike 15.3% of the time overall, and 19.6% on his slider. Because of this, the high number of walks, and high frequency of balls in play falling for hits, have not come back to haunt him.

Although Marmol has been successful, this path to success isn’t blueprint for others. On the plus side, there is there is an equal chance Marmol’s BABIP regresses toward career levels (.257). Regardless, Marmol’s unique processes should continue to provide above-average results – including an astronomical strikeout rates that’s going to equal more total Ks than many starting pitchers will rack up.

For more on Carlos Marmol and dominating closers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.