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Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek: 'It's been too close for comfort'

Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek has had to overcome adversity in several of his most recent outings. Cishek has been able to close games, but said his last few outings have been "too close for comfort."

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Despite converting his last three save opportunities, Miami Marlins closer Steve Cishek is not content.

Cishek became the third Marlins closer to post 30 saves in consecutive seasons on Monday, but Cishek's recent success could be misleading, as he has allowed at least one run in three of his last four outings.

But Cishek has hardly been lights-out lately. Although he was credited with saves in his past three outings, he has allowed one or more runs in three of the past four.

During that stretch the sidearmer has allowed five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. His ERA since the All-Star break is 4.15.

More telling, Cishek has allowed hits in each of his past seven outings, a total of 15 in seven innings.

"It's like bend, don't break, I guess. But it's been way to close for comfort," Cishek said.

Cishek's name was one that came up frequently for teams that were looking to add a closer before the non-waiver trade deadline. The Marlins had no interest in trading their closer because of his age and the inexpensive productivity he provides.

Since blowing a save against the Diamondbacks on July 9, Cishek has converted 10 straight opportunities. Hitters are putting together patient at-bats against the 28-year old, acknowledging they will receive a fastball at some point in the count if his slider is not finding the strike zone. Just over 50 percent (50.5) of Cishek's pitches in 2014 have been fastballs.

At times in his career, Cishek, who has posted a 2.14 FIP to this point, has had difficulty against left-handed hitters. Lefties are batting .267 against him in 2014, a bit lower than last season's .285 average.

Miami's offense has given Cishek runs to work with, which is something an offensively inconsistent Marlins team in 2013 didn't do frequently. Cishek's most recent challenges are significant considering Miami is among the best in baseball in one run games.

That statistic, though, is misleading when applied exclusively to closers.  A closer can enter the game and allow a run or two without blowing the save, as was the case on Monday against the Cardinals when the Marlins had more than a one run edge.

The Marlins have other closing options, including Bryan Morris, A.J. Ramos, and Mike Dunn should Cishek's struggles persist. Dunn earned his first save of the season on Tuesday night when Cishek rightfully got a night off.

Although he is disappointed in his inability to close games quickly, Cishek is confident he can turn things around.

"The bottom line is we're still winning ballgames, even though I'm giving up runs," the closer said. "In the end, the outcome is a 'W,' and that's all that really matters to me. I'm just going to keep going out there and battling with what I got."