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Go Bold or Go Home: You're a Square if You Don't Draft Carlos Marmol

Last year I loved Carlos Marmol. I listened to some advice that ended up being less than awesome and I was psyched for an underrated fireballing closer. I knew then that I'd be taking some lumps and popping Tums like candy during his appearances, but I also knew he'd get me saves and strikeouts. Lots and lots of strikeouts.

Then he lost his job basically right away and sent me on the track to finish second-to-last in saves. (Sean Marshall and Grant Balfour contributed to that experience as well.) So thanks for that, Carlos.

But I'm here to say that if you let Marmol slip by you in your fantasy draft, you're making a mistake. My reasoning is simple: saves are saves, and the more you can rack up, the better. Moreover, a closer in the hand is worth two or three in the bush. Maybe more, and Marmol will be starting the year closing for the Cubbies. Will he get tons and tons of saves? No. Will he be any more reliable than he has been in the past? No. Will he have more job security? No, he might even have less, since he's a trade candidate (though the fact that he is means the Cubs have a reason to keep him in the 9th inning as long as they can). So...why again do I think you should draft this guy?

The price is right. He's getting taken in fewer than nine percent of mock drafts over at Mock Draft Central, and his ADP is a paltry 233.62, putting him in the 19th round. He's going totally undrafted in over 60% of mocks. Right now, he's the 35th relief pitcher off the board, putting him behind five, count 'em five, non-closers or job sharers. Including his own setup man, former Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa. Now, there are some elite non-closing relievers out there, but the value of even the 20 saves that Marmol put up last year is something no non-closer can match. For the extra-nervous among you, check out this alarmingly-titled piece that reiterates Marmol's possession of the closer's job in Chicago.

I can honestly say that I think the Cubs' plan is to trade Marmol around the time of the deadline and let Fujikawa close. That's fine with me, though, because they'll want to maximize Marmol's trade value before the deadline, and that means giving him a little more patience. He'll fetch a higher price as long as he's got that "closer" tag and the Cubs want that price as much as you want some bonus saves. In standard roto, who cares when you get the saves--all that matters is that they're in your column at the end of the year. Head-to-head players will be a little more eager to have a backup for him.

The plan could go off the rails, of course. For instance, the Cubs could actually contend (not likely, but their starting pitching has a lot of upside), in which case they might just want Marmol around because (secret!) he isn't actually that bad. Not only did he put it together pretty well in the second half last year (1.52 ERA), and score just fine in save chances (20-for-23 is hardly panic-worthy), he did decently enough at keeping the ball in the park (0.65 HR/9) and his FIP was a sort-of acceptable 3.98. Are these great, inspiring numbers? No. Obviously not. Are they so bad that Marmol will definitely kill your ERA and WHIP? No, they're really not. And while he's not killing your rate stats, he can add a lot to those saves and strikeouts.

Don't go overboard. I'm not saying you should draft Marmol to be your first closer. I'm not even saying you should use your 15th round pick on him. But I am willing to say that you should not let Carlos Marmol go undrafted in your league. If you don't grab him--or worse, you let someone else do it--you're leaving value on the table. And that's what squares do.


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