It's as if Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly stood in front of a podium and said the following:
We, uh, aren't afraid of Matt Carpenter. At all. We're not afraid of Matt Adams, either. Jon Jay doesn't bother us. They seem like nice enough guys, but whatever.
What we are afraid of? Yadier Molina. Allen Craig. Matt Holliday. David Freese. And our own starting pitchers failing to get out of the third inning.
This is why we need pitchers who were too bad to pitch for the Cubs and Padres.
The Dodgers released their NLCS roster on Friday. It's amazing. I put my computer down, poured a glass of water, took a sip, and spat it everywhere. Paco Rodriguez and Chris Capuano are off the roster. Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez are on the roster.
Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez are on.
If you don't know who Paco Rodriguez is, you can at least figure out that he's not Carlos Marmol. But Rodriguez is actually good. In 54 innings this season, he posted a sterling 2.32 ERA and a 63/19 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While he's murder on lefties (who have hit .133/.216/.177 against him in his career), right-handers haven't done well against him, either. He's funky, tough to pick up. And he generally knows where the ball is going.
Marmol does not. In 21 innings with the Dodgers, he walked 19. His ERA was low (2.53) , but that's a pretty lousy way to judge a reliever's efficiency. Relievers can't allow almost a walk for every inning they pitch and expect to be successful. Marmol is still in the league, so he's done better than expected, considering how extreme his control problems are. But he's not good. If you figure there are 30 teams that typically have seven relievers in their bullpens, that gives you 210 active relievers. Marmol is about 211th on the list of pitchers I'd expect to see pitching in the playoffs.
The Volquez/Capuano decision is a little curious, mostly because Capuano has been much more consistent over the years, but that's not a big deal. If the Dodgers have either one in the game, they're probably hosed regardless. It should be noted, though, that the Cardinals have noticeable platoon splits, hitting right-handers much better than left-handers. Could be a sample-size blip. Could be meaningful.
But leaving Rodriguez off is gobsmacking. Leaving him off for an active gas leak like Marmol is amazing. The reason? If Rodriguez is healthy, the only reason would be his two-thirds of an inning against the Braves, in which he allowed two walks, and a homer to lefty Jason Heyward.
"You know who would have defused that situation? Carlos Marmol. We have to get that guy on the roster if we get out of this."
- Manager of the Year candidate Don Mattingly, probably
If you're interested in good theater, you're rooting for extra innings. Belisario pitches an inning. Wilson pitches an inning. Jansen pitches an inning. And when Mattingly looks to the bullpen, Carlos Marmol is smiling and waving. The Durham Bull leaves to put on a cup. Los Angeles gasps.
Ned Colletti took on a few reclamation projects this season. One worked out (Wilson) and one didn't (Jonathan Sanchez). And another just might be the difference between the Dodgers winning the pennant or not.
Or maybe he'll pitch an unimportant inning or two and won't be a factor at all. That's probably the likeliest result, after all.
But to take the chance of Marmol affecting the results is to be certifiable. Unless Rodriguez left the mound in the NLDS and curled up under the bench with his thumb his mouth, there's no reasonable explanation for this. It was the opening move, and Donnie Ballgame just replaced his knight with a broken Admiral Ackbar figure that can only move backward one square at a time. Good luck with that.
Carlos Marmol. Literally on a playoff roster. Baseball!