Turning the Dial to Ridiculous

Carlos Marmol has great stuff. Carlos Marmol effectively uses that great stuff to strike out a lot of hitters. Neither of those two statements is shocking or relatively unknown, even to casual fans. Carlos Marmol has been a big component of the Chicago Cubs bullpen for the past few years and he’s consistently racked up impressive strikeout totals.

In 2007, it was 96 strikeouts in 69.1 innings or 33.7% of all batters faced. In 2008, Marmol punched out 114 over 87.1 innings with what was actually a slightly lower rate at 32.8% of all batters faced. 2009 seemed like a bad omen as the strikeouts slipped to 93 in 74 innings and just 27.8% of hitters.

I think we can put that bad omen to rest. Marmol finished today having faced 103 batters on the season. He’s sent 49 of them back to the dugout with a strikeout. That’s an absurd 47.6% strikeout rate. Given that he’s recorded 24.2 innings pitched, the strikeout rate on the more well known K/9 scale registers a you-have-to-be-kidding-me 17.9.

For every inning that Carlos Marmol has pitched, he’s averaged two strikeouts. Do I even need to put that in perspective for you or can you intuitively grasp how insanely dominant that is?

Of course, Marmol is also a bit wild, yielding about 5.5 walks per nine innings as well. For out of this world comedy when it comes to skewed pitching lines, take a gander at Jonathan Broxton’s 30 strikeouts, two walks and zero home runs allowed over 20.1 innings. Broxton’s resulting FIP of 0.45 and xFIP of 1.59 are both league leaders as is his 15.0 strikeout to walk ratio.

Broxton has been more valuable, but I’m not sure that what he’s accomplished thus far is more impressive than Carlos Marmol’s strikeout rate.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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Marmol’s one of those guys that could not pitch to contact even if he wanted to. His slider just moves that much. I would not be surprised at all if he just aims “down the middle” and let’s the movement carry it to the corner.

I haven’t looked at pitch data, but I’m wondering if batters would be better off just not swinging at his slider? Of course I doubt it’s very easy to recognize it early enough to lay off, especially when his fastball is nothing to laugh at.

Of couse he can deliver a 3 walk 2 HBP inning at any moment. But given his stuff and release point, he could at some point in his career bust out with a K-Rod season … Provided the Cubs were in the lead enough times.


After watching more Marol “Strikeout Highlights”, I still come back to the idea of hitters just NOT swinging at the slider. It ends up 10 inches (or more) outside, and the swings take on it would not produce anything more than a weak ground ball.

I would make him start it inside so that it ends up over the plate (moving toward the barrel of a RHB).

The fact that batters still chase it likely indicate the Marmol’s fastball/slider combo is deadly, and that by the time you pick up the slider, it’s too late b/c you were already swinging at the fastball. Combined with his funky and explosive delivery, he must be hell to try and hit (duh).

Either way … he’s damn impressive.