SAN DIEGO -- Carlos Marmol has 36 saves, which means he's saved half of the Cubs' wins this season.
"I didn't know that," Marmol said on Wednesday, laughing. "They've given me opportunities lately, and I've taken advantage of them."
Marmol has converted his last 15 save opportunities and has held opponents scoreless over his last 17 outings. The only negative is that he's walked 10 in his last 13 2/3 innings.
"I don't worry about walks," he said. "It makes me mad and more frustrated. I keep fighting. That's all you can do."
Pitching coach Larry Rothchild has joked that Marmol might as well put somebody on base, because he tends to focus better when he does.
"It's kind of funny," Marmol said.
Probably not to anyone watching from the dugout.
In 75 games, Marmol has struck out 134, which leads all Major League relievers and is a franchise record for K's in a single season by a reliever. He's averaging 15.94 strikeouts per nine innings pitched this season. The single-season record for a reliever is 14.98, established by the Dodgers' Eric Gagne in 2003.
"I was surprised when I saw the numbers," Marmol said. "I never expected to strikeout that many."
Samardzija pleased with season
SAN DIEGO -- Jeff Samardzija isn't happy that he won't be getting another start, but he likes the way his season has gone.
He credits Triple-A Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason with helping him simplify his mechanics.
"I wanted to get back to an athletic standpoint on the windup and delivery, where we just kind of simplified it and let my height work instead of trying to do different things," Samardzija said. "I wanted to get to a simple stretch and simple windup that we could repeat and just not worry about, to tell you the truth."
When he went to Iowa, Samardzija pitched out of the stretch for the first month and a half just to establish a good foundation. He feels more consistent. He's switched to the left side of the rubber, and now it's just a matter of execution.
"It's allowed me to worry about other things, and that takes a big load off," he said. "Instead of trying to get big league hitters out worried about your mechanics, now you're trying to get big league hitters out worrying about executing your pitch. It's been great.
"Even with the last outing, I'm not too worried about it, to tell you the truth. The more I repeat this windup and this stretch and just keep throwing, walks don't bother me one bit. Obviously, we want to avoid them, but I know as time goes on, those numbers will shrink down to where we want them, and I think after that, the sky's the limit."
In his last start, on Sunday against the Cardinals, he walked seven and gave up seven hits over 4 1/3 innings. That's part of the reason Casey Coleman was tabbed to start on Friday and open the Cubs' final series, against the Astros.
Though Samardzija could pitch out of the 'pen in the final three games, he's already looking forward to 2011.
"Spring Training will be here before you know it," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.