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Pulling a Marmol
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I'd like to enter a phrase into the fantasy baseball lexicon: pulling a Marmol.

The phrase refers to a closer being staked to a two-orthree-run lead and getting yanked for poor performance before he can finish the job, like Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol did on Opening Day.

Pulling a Marmol is difficult because it involves being so awful in the past that your manager doesn't trust you to work out of your own jam, so he has to go to the next available option instead of waiting for the inevitable blown save.

With 45 walks and a 1.54 WHIP in 55 1/3 innings last season, Marmol worked into a lot of jams. Fortunately for the right-hander, the best secondary options the Cubs could come up with were Rafael Dolis and James Russell, so he never had a serious threat to his job.

This year, the Cubs brought in Kyuji Fujikawa, who has been one of Japan's best late-game relievers for the past eight years.

Fujikawa came in with two outs in the ninth, threw two pitches and induced a Russell Martin fly out to center to record his first MLB save.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum isn't ready to make the switch from Marmol to Fujikawa just yet.

"He's still the closer," said Sveum, according to Yahoo! Sports. "I'm not making any changes or anything like that. He just didn't have it today."

However, given Marmol's wild history -- he has walked 346 batters and blown 25 save opportunities in his career -- the change to Fujikawa can't be far off.

Several high-profile Japanese relievers have had immediate success at the major league level, even if they eventually fizzled out after a few years.

Hideki Okajima had a 2.40 ERA over 131 innings in his first two big league seasons, Takashi Saito had 81 saves and a 1.95 ERA over his first three and Shingo Takatsu saved 19 games and had a 2.31 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 62 1/3 innings as a rookie in 2004. Akinori Otsuka lasted four seasons in the big leagues and posted a 2.44 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, and Kazuhiro Sasaki also was around for four and had a 2.98 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 119 saves.

So there's reason to believe that Fujikawa, who had an ERA of 2.01 or lower in each of the past eight Japanese seasons, will have similar success in 2013.

Fujikawa just needs Carlos to pull a few more Marmols before he has the closer job all to himself.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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