With Marmol, Sveum just wants strikes

CINCINNATI -- Chicago Cubs fans loaded with optimism saw a 1-2-3 ninth-inning save from Carlos Marmol on Wednesday night.

The cynical, less optimistic of the following saw him unnecessarily go to a full count to the leadoff batter and then allow a fly ball to the warning track on the second batter.

If there is a lack of trust when it comes to Marmol, it’s only because the right-hander has brought it upon himself. His 10 blown saves last year led into some shaky moments this spring and some more unsightly outings this season.

But manager Dale Sveum is sticking with his guy. The belief is that if Marmol gets some consistent work he can stay sharp. He has had just four save opportunities this season, converting two of them. He is also 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA.

“Strikes; just throw strikes,” Sveum said when asked if he sees a difference in Marmol now. “Whatever pitch he’s going to use, you just have to throw strikes, keep people off base. We all know going in it’s one of those things we have to deal with. His stuff is good enough, but you have to throw strikes to keep people off the bases.”

Sveum wants Marmol to trust in his fastball more instead of the slider. The right-hander has tried to oblige, throwing fastballs in just over 50 percent of his pitches this season. That’s up from last year when he was barely over 30 percent with his fastballs.

Does Sveum want Marmol’s fastball percentage to be even higher?

“Yeah,” Sveum said. “And I would like it to be in the strike zone.”