The Miami Marlins had something Saturday night that they hadn't had since before last year's All-Star break: left-handed depth in the bullpen.
Following Friday night's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Marlins designated right-handed reliever Jon Rauch for assignment, and promoted lefty Duane Below from Triple-A New Orleans. Below was acquired off of waivers from the Tigers.
Rauch made 15 appearances and went 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 16 and two-thirds innings. He signed a one-year contract worth $1 million in February. Prior to the season, Rauch was expected to serve as the setup man to closer Steve Cishek out of the bullpen. However, Cishek hasn't had the opportunity to save many games, and Rauch has struggled since the season began.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com points out that "Rauch's biggest contribution came on April 29, when he threw three innings and 60 pitches of relief in a 5-4 win over the Mets in 15 innings. He gave up a run in the top of the 15th, but Miami rallied for two to pull off a walk-off victory."
Rauch posted a 3.59 earned run average over close to 58 innings with the New York Mets in 2012. Last season, he walked 12 batters over his 73 appearances. This year, he had already walked seven in just 15 games.
While Wade LeBlanc is in the bullpen, he is mainly Miami's long reliever in case of a poor outing by a starter.
Miami hasn't carried two left-handed relievers in their bullpen since Mike Dunn and Randy Choate were both in the pen before the 2012 All-Star break. Choate was eventually traded to the Dodgers in the deal that sent Nathan Eovaldi to Miami.
Dunn has been used in both setup situations and to retire a specific left-handed batter. He has a 1.83 ERA in 21 games, with seven walks and 20 strikeouts.
Dan Jennings had a chance to earn a bullpen spot out of Spring Training, but struggled in several appearances.
Duane Below has a career 3.88 ERA in 27 relief appearances in the majors, all of which came playing for Detroit.
Below made four starts for New Orleans, posting a 2-2 record with a 3.38 ERA, 15 strikeouts, and six walks in 21 and one-third innings. He can serve as a long reliever, like LeBlanc, in case of a short outing by a starter.
With three lefties in the bullpen now, Miami manager Mike Redmond has more flexibility when it comes to pitching changes in a division stacked with tough left-handed hitters.