The scene was not pretty Monday night as Marlins closer Steve Cishek emerged for the bullpen with a 1-0 lead over the New York Mets. Upon entering the game, Cishek surrendered three hits including a three-run home run off the bat of Daniel Murphy that would eventually prove to be the knockout-punch in the 3-1 loss. The loss game Cishek his third blown save on the young season.
While Cishek has been inconsistent, the entire Marlins bullpen has struggled to make the transition from spring. Most notably A.J. Ramos, who blew a three-run lead Tuesday night. Ramos has proved to be one of the most inconsistent Marlins relievers and is still engaged in his on-going battle with this control. While he stands at a diminutive stature, Ramos can be a good middle-innings reliever, he just needs to start finding the strike zone on a more consistent basis.
The Marlins bullpen as a whole ranks 27th in Major League Baseball posting a 4.57 ERA. The unit as a whole in 21 games has a collective record of 3-3 in 67.0 total innings of action. To put it simply, the bullpen has struggled mightily in the young season. A consistent bullpen is proving to be a necessity in todays' baseball. The Kansas City Royals currently hold the lowest team ERA in baseball at 0.82.
Another trouble spot for the pen, is that pitchers Jarred Cosart and David Phelps turned in shutout starts on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Both pitchers were masterful and once the keys were turned over to the bullpen, the game changed. Both starts who turned in masterpieces did not factor into the decision of the game and neither picked up the win or loss. You can't waste shutout starts, especially from guys like Phelps and Cosart, who don't have this kind of production ever outing. Less than efficient appearances by Cishek and Ramos stamped out leads both nights and effectively put the game into limbo.
So how could the Marlins potentially fix this problem? Maybe demoting Steve Cishek out of the closers' role until his velocity comes back would be a smart choice. A possible return of Jose Urena from the minors may be in the cards. What about the trade market? There's bound to be plenty of bullpen pitchers on the block.
It's probably too early to hit the reset button, but things need to change in a big way for the Marlins bullpen if they want to continue to win and become a contender.