The Marlins signed veteran reliever Jon Rauch to a $1M deal for the next year to try and land a little more bullpen depth. Rauch does have bullpen experience and the 6’11″ reliever has made stops in Washington, Minnesota, Toronto, and NY and has maintained a 3.80 ERA over the course of his career.
Most likely Rauch will provide depth and a potentially reliable setup reliever in the backend of a young pen.
One month into the season and the Marlins’ closer role is still looking unanswered. In an offseason where lots of money was spent by the new-look Marlins, there was a conviction that the position for closing games was solved. Now, it seems, the Marlins are scratching their heads.
The Marlins have $27M reasons why they should be wondering if they made the right move. With his fourth blown save in seven opportunities, Heath Bell is looking more and more like a mistake. “We gotta do something. We can’t be waiting anymore,” Ozzie Guillen said to the press shortly after last night’s 9-8 12th inning win for the Marlins.
Being 0-3 with 4 saves and an 11.45 ERA is not what the Fish had envisioned when Bell was signed this past offseason. But it gets worse – his numbers, thus far, are in sharp decline.
Bell’s K per 9 innings ratio is down from 11.1 in 2010 to and 7.3 last season to only 5.9 this season. He has only 6 Ks in 8.2 innings but has 10 walks. He is not getting his first batters out and both sides of the plate are mashing him – lefties hit .308 while righties hit an appalling .409 right now.
Scouts are noting that he doesn’t look the same on the mound and that his velocity has begun to dip a bit. His location is off and he is struggling. The question is, can he correct this and emerge out of this funk as a consistent late game closer and will the Marlins be forced to scrap it and go in another direction? Judging by the trends of his numbers, it would seem that his walks are an anomaly or in the least, in direct correlation with control problems. He already has 10 walks while averaging about 26 per season from 2007-2011.
Ozzie’s let’s see and wait approach may only last a few more games – as it should. One of his strengths is his ability to make detached decisions while a manager like Freddie Gonzalez would give too many chances and cost his team games. Expect a short leash and possibly a change in the backend of the bullpen. You might see Heath Bell become one of the more expensive set up men in the league.
Sorry, Fredi, I don’t buy it. And if you really mean what you say, then the Marlins are in deep trouble. Kevin Gregg is not in any danger of losing his closing job? Really?
The Marlins are choking. Kevin Gregg is supposed to be there to give CPR and life support, but he hasn’t been able to save himself let alone his team. Sure, he has 15 saves, but he also has 6 blown saves.
Gregg also has 27 walks in 40 innings – that is the most of any reliever with 15 or more saves on the season.
This is a demonstration that Gregg’s control has not been precise – all season. So why keep putting him into these pressure situations which demand for a pitcher to respond by throwing strikes? Gregg’s WHIP is also a fat 1.43 which means hitters just aren’t fooled by him and when he is behind in the count, he has to throw strikes. It is a recipe for disaster.
Kevin Gregg needs to be lifted for a more promising closer. The sad fact is, the Marlins would have at most six more wins if Gregg just closed the door like he is supposed to. Where would that put the Marlins in the standings? Would that force Larry Beinfest, the team’s de facto GM to make a deal to improve the team? You bet. It would at least for the Marlins front office to look into making a deal to leap over the Phillies.
Yes, they will be getting Josh Johnson back sometime this week. Sure they will be getting Anibal Sanchez back soon, too. But what about Kevin Gregg? Will he continue to be inconsistent, at best, as the closer and cost the team wins?
Justin Miller was sent down because of an injury and Matt Lindstrom was recalled. “Justin” time, I say. Because he has quietly been one of the worst relievers we have had in the pen and has managed to escape too much ridicule. We all know what Miller is capable of, but he hasn’t shown good control all season. So, why is it any different with Gregg? Maybe because the Marlins don’t have any other options to close. Then again, let’s hope Lindstrom can come back and make Fredi think about making a change. Right now, Fredi isn’t showing much brass either by backing a pitcher who is struggling. Sure, you should back your players but when something is wrong, something is wrong. To support that is to lack any grey matter.