Marlins Release Carlos Marmol; Career Likely Over

Carlos Marmol in a typical pose, watching a hitter who hit a home run off him circle the bases. This one's likely his last, hit by the Padres' Chase Headley. - Denis Poroy

At one time, the former Cubs righthander was nearly unhittable.

He's just 31 years old, but Carlos Marmol's career likely ended today:

The Marlins released reliever Carlos Marmol on Monday afternoon.

The move was anticipated after the 31-year-old right-hander was designated for assignment following a rough outing at San Diego on May 10. After surrendering four runs in one inning of a 9-3 loss to the Padres, the Marlins decided to part ways with the former closer.

Before that, Marmol had allowed an upper-deck home run in Marlins Park by Carl Crawford, who's not exactly a power hitter. That won a game for the Dodgers after the Marlins had come from a 7-1 deficit to tie it with two out in the last of the ninth.

But this isn't about Bad Marmol, who we saw all too often during his Cubs career. This is a remembrance of Good Marmol. You know, the guy who was a really good setup man in 2007 and 2008, the Cubs' division title years, and who was nearly unhittable as Cubs closer in 2010. In case you've forgotten, in 77⅔ innings that year, he gave up just 40 hits and struck out 138, which is the most ever for someone who threw that few innings. It's a Cubs team record for a pitcher who threw exclusively in relief, and the 16 batters struck out per nine innings is the most for any reliever who threw at least that many innings -- by a pretty good margin. In 2010, Marmol faced 332 batters, and only 134 of them managed to hit a fair ball off him -- the rest either struck out, walked or got hit by a pitch.

And the two latter things are what did Marmol in. He never had great command even in that amazing 2010 season -- he walked 5.8 per nine innings that year -- and overall, he walked 6.2 per nine innings, and you simply can't survive in the major leagues with that, especially as a reliever.

It's worth remembering that Marmol is a conversion guy. Signed at age 16 in 1999 out of the Dominican Republic, Marmol didn't play in the Cubs minor-league system until 2001, when he spent two years hitting a combined .257/.286/.314 in 385 plate appearances, with 17 doubles, four triples and a home run, playing mostly outfield, with 12 games at catcher (can you picture that? I can't). He always had a great arm, and that's why he was converted to mound work.

Marmol is the only Cubs relief pitcher to hit a home run since 1992; he did it September 7, 2006 against the Pirates in a game where he threw two scoreless innings in relief, walking just one and striking out four.

That's the Marmol I want to remember, the guy with the electric slider who struck out batters and saved games, not the bloated figure who's probably done in the major leagues at age 31. He was a key part of two Cubs division title teams. Good luck, Carlos, and thanks for the memories (at least, for the good ones).

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