When the Miami Marlins signed Carlos Marmol, Manager Mike Redmond and the rest of the front office expressed their confidence in him and were persistent in noting that he is a different pitcher than in years past. Despite Marmol's struggles in Miami's 10-7 loss to Washington on Wednesday night, Redmond will continue to count on him in key situations.
Asked whether he considered using A.J. Ramos to start the eighth, Redmond said: "It's easy to second guess now. I still felt good about having Marmol out there. This guy has closed out a lot of games and pitched in a lot of big situations over the course of his career. That's why we signed him, to come in and take over for the guys we lost. We're going to need this guy to pitch in some big situations and some big games."
Miami had just taken a 7-6 lead late in the game, and Marmol recorded an out before he hit pinch-hitter Nate McLouth and a Derek Dietrich error put runners on second and third with one out. Redmond, indicating his confidence, had Marmol intentionally walk Anthony Rendon before Marmol gave up a grand slam to Jayson Werth that cost the Marlins the game.
It is easy to second guess the move after the game, but hindsight bias isn't needed to prove that Marmol is not known as a reliever who can easily come in and get a ground ball for a double play to end an inning. Last season, just 37.6% of contact made against Marmol resulted in ground balls.
Redmond is still trying to sort out his bullpen, and Marmol's poor outing wasn't and shouldn't be enough to take him out of the setup role. In the four appearances before he took the hill in Washington, Marmol pitched four scoreless innings.
Miami's bullpen wasn't an issue last season, and it had one of baseball's best ERAs during the first week of the year. But if Marmol can't hold on to a lead, and Redmond doesn't want to increase the work loads of Ramos or Dunn, maybe occasionally extending Steve Cishek is a possibility if it is the difference between a win and a loss.
With a lot of baseball left to be played, the Marlins are still confident in what Marmol can contribute. But if he struggles to throw strikes consistently and gets wild as he did against the Nationals, he may not be a Marlin for long.