Miami did not anticipate having to worry about its bullpen. Throughout the offseason, the goal was to improve the offense and starting rotation while adding depth. And while some Marlins relievers have been productive to this point in 2015, Steve Cishek has had difficulty throwing strikes.
After Cishek allowed the go ahead run in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Mets, the Marlins opted to option him to Double-A Jacksonville on Monday night. The organization has been impressed with A.J. Ramos' composure and ability to close games and as a result was able to confidently option Cishek. Even after Ramos was named Miami's closer, Cishek was called upon in key situations late in games. His inability to produce likely led the Marlins to act quickly.
While when certain players are optioned they may not be recalled in the immediate future, the Marlins made it clear this is a temporary change. Manager Dan Jennings told Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald he does not anticipate this "being a long term deal." Although Cishek may have successfully adjusted with the Marlins, the move should prove to benefit both the Marlins and Cishek moving forward.
Cishek has saved 88 games as the Marlins' closer over the last three seasons. However, his 6.98 ERA in 19.1 innings led the Marlins to consider other closing alternatives. Cishek has struggled in the past, most notably against left-handed hitters, and his delivery is distinct. If it is not repeated consistently, he can begin to lose control.
Although the Marlins could have optioned Cishek to Triple-A, the move to Double-A should prove to be beneficial. He will be able to adjust while facing soon-to-be major league talent and top prospects. He can alter his delivery as necessary and work on his control. It will not likely be a lengthy stint for Cishek. After two or three weeks of consistent outings, the Marlins will likely recall him.
Miami is hoping to get as close to five hundred as possible before the All-Star break and Ramos in the closer spot may help the Marlins reach that goal. Ultimately, while they gave Cishek opportunities to bounce back, he was unable to do so. Cishek grew frustrated but not discouraged, and as a result, he could be back in Miami's bullpen in the middle of June. Currently, the Marlins may be better with Cishek working on becoming consistent in Jacksonville. But that might not be true in a few weeks.
When Cishek returns, the Marlins will have the efficient back of the bullpen they thought they would before the start of the season. Optioning Cishek is a temporary change that should prove to benefit both Cishek and the Marlins' roster. Cishek will bounce back and have success in 2015, and when he does, he will be a reliable eighth or ninth inning option or be attractive to a contending team in pursuit of relief help.