Every time I watched Carl Edwards Jr. stroll out to the mound this year, I had this weird feeling deep down. Not the “welp, here come some runs” feeling (although it would have been accurate enough) but a “why do I feel like I’ve seen this before?” And then it hit me. We’ve heard this song before, we know how this movie ends. We saw it play out from 2006 to 2013. He’s Carlos Marmol 2.0. And it’s deeper than their first names.
After a decent 2006 as a starter, Carlos Marmol kicked down the door for the Cubs in 2007 as a reliever, and he made our mouths water. Hell, he somehow managed to snag a rouge MVP vote that year. It was a different time than the present: strikeouts were not the norm and not every bullpen had an army of fireballers to whiff every hitter. If you had a closer with strikeout stuff you were lucky, like Mariano Rivera lucky. And Marmol struck out A LOT of hitters. He had no problem missing bats, the problem was he missed the strike zone too. Take a look at this game from 2009 below. He strikes out the side, but it’s not without drama. This was a common theme during Marmol’s tenure.
In 2016, the Stringbean Slinger teased us the same way Marmol had in 2007. A dude with absolute filth. He came out guns blazing and played a crucial role in the 2016 World Series run. Just like Marmol, he was as likely to strike out the side as he was to have two walks and a wild pitch.
They also both came on the scene in a similar fashion. They wowed everyone in a setup role under the tutelage of a legit good closer and has us salivating for the day they’d take the role over. In 2007, Marmol was setting up for Ryan Dempster and in 2008 for Kerry Wood. Kevin Gregg eventually gave way to Marmol in 2009, and while I wouldn’t call his closing legit, his glasses sure were. Edwards got to learn under Aroldis Chapman, Wade Davis, and Brandon Morrow. With Morrow starting this 2019 season on the IL, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that Edwards and his ‘retooled’ delivery would take over the temporary closer role and maybe even make it a question of who closes when Morrow returns. My how things can change from the week before pitchers/catchers report through mid-July.
Through their first three seasons out of the pen, you could even argue that Edwards put up better numbers than Marmol:
Yes, Marmol has Edwards trumped in all of the volume stats, but Edwards’ peripherals are better across the board. Marmol’s ERA+ is more a product of the time, with Edwards being more or less punished for pitching in the bullpen era.
With his recent relegation to AAA, I don’t think we will see him in a high-leverage situation again for the Cubs this season. With this being the final year of the 40-man roster expansion in September, I’m sure he’ll be back up at some point. He needs to reset and refresh his mind, which is far easier said than done. On the plus side, the pressure to be “the guy” should be more alleviated. With Craig Kimbrel signed to a multi-year deal, Edwards doesn’t have to do anything more than what he always has, miss bats and break hearts. I truly hope that next year we are talking about the one or two stray MVP votes that Edwards received in his bounce-back season. As my main man JP always says:
Featured Photo: Nam Y. Huh/AP