Left-handed specialists don’t usually please the Marlins. The club hasn’t carried one in its bullpen since signing Randy Choate.
Hunter Cervenka, who the Marlins acquired in exchange for a pair of minor league prospects Saturday, isn’t just a left-handed reliever. He has a power arm for a lefty and isn’t yet arbitration eligible.
Miami acquired Cervenka on waivers just days after the non-waiver trade deadline. The Marlins were linked to Cervenka in advance of Monday’s deadline but were unable to complete a deal.
The acquisition of Cervenka and the club’s willingness to part with prospects continues to prove the Marlins want to win this season. They lost a former first round draft pick, Josh Naylor, in the Andrew Cashner trade with the Padres. Now, one of the weaker farm systems in the game lost another pair of prospects.
Miami is right to be in “win now” mode. Entering Saturday’s contest against the Rockies, the Marlins are tied with the Cardinals for one of two National League Wild Card spots. The window of opportunity is now and the front office is taking advantage.
While Miami’s bullpen already contains a left-handed option, Mike Dunn, the unit will likely have even more success with two. Dunn, who is an impending free agent, at times has command issues and isn’t known for getting left-handed hitters out routinely.
Cervenka, 26, is having a solid season with the Braves, pitching to a 3.18 ERA and 3.95 FIP over 34.0 innings. He is a controllable asset and should prove to be valuable against lefties. Left-handed hitters are batting a mere .143 against Cervenka this season.
The Marlins thought they had done enough to upgrade their bullpen by acquiring Fernando Rodney at the end of June. But since joining the Marlins, Rodney’s ERA has been well over four. In his new role, pitching the eighth inning, he’s struggled.
A.J. Ramos continues to have success, although his performance on the current roadtrip is notable. He’s blown a save, and since Rodney was added into the mix has blown two.
The back end of the bullpen, which ranks seventh in the National League in ERA, lost a top arm when David Phelps was asked to join the starting rotation. That wasn’t supposed to be the case, as the Marlins added Colin Rea to the back-end of the rotation. However, they might not have received a complete medical report from the Padres.
Cervenka won’t necessarily be a late-inning option for the Marlins to turn to, but adding him to the mix makes the bullpen deeper. And in a division with several prominent left-handed bats, Cervenka will likely be valuable as a situational lefty.
It’s hard to evaluate young prospects, but in this situation, the Marlins were forced to part with two top 30 pieces. The organization is working with what it has in an attempt to field the best team for the remainder of this season.
Miami could continue to seek starting help via waivers this month, and adding a starter would solidify a rotation that lacks consistency behind Jose Fernandez and Adam Conley.
The Marlins are not a lock to make the playoffs after making the deals they’ve made. But regardless of whether they make it, you can’t say they didn’t try.