CHICAGO -- Cubs closer Carlos Marmol is striking out batters at a record-setting pace.
Of the 103 batters the right-hander has faced, he's struck out 49 for 48 percent. The Major League record is 44.8 percent, set in 2003 by Eric Gagne. Only four pitchers have finished the year topping 40 percent.
On Thursday, he added to his stats by striking out the side in the ninth inning of the Cubs' 1-0 win over the Dodgers.
"My command is a little better," said Marmol, who took over the closer's role last year and now has 11 saves in 13 chances. "I feel real good. Right now, I feel confident."
His strikeout pitch is his slider -- "Always," he said, smiling -- but Marmol has better command of his fastball this year, which has helped set up hitters.
"I can throw my fastball with two strikes now," the right-hander said. "I did it a couple times, and it worked out."
His slider was on in the ninth on Thursday. Marmol fell behind pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez, 0-2, which prompted a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
"He told me to focus a little more and throw strikes," Marmol said.
And the right-hander did just that, getting Ramirez out on three straight sliders.
It's only the end of May, but told that he had a chance at Gagne's mark, Marmol grinned. Hitters beware.
"We'll see if I can break that record," Marmol said.