Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is recapping the Top 100 Marlins to ever appear with the franchise. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, all 523 players were considered, whether they played for the Florida or Miami version of the Marlins. Today’s Marlin, Steve Cishek, earned 4.8 while with the Fish.
Cishek was a 6’6”, 215 lb. right handed pitcher from Falmouth, Massachusetts when he came to the attention of the Marlins’ scouting department. Born on June 18th, 1986, he was chosen in the fifth round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Marlins, with the 166th overall selection, seven picks after Jake Arrieta went to the Baltimore Orioles. According to www.brooksbaseball.net:
Cishek is primarily a sinkerballer who, despite utilizing a sidearm delivery, is able to throw his sinker with above-average velocity ranging from 91 miles per hour (146 km/h) to 94 miles per hour (151 km/h). His secondary pitch is a slider in the 82 miles per hour (132 km/h) to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h) range, a pitch he uses more commonly against right-handed hitters. Additionally, he has a four-seam fastball and a changeup; he uses the changeup exclusively against left-handed hitters, and that pitch ranges from 83 miles per hour (134 km/h) to 86 miles per hour (138 km/h). Cishek features his slider liberally in two-strike counts, especially 1–2.
Cishek made his major league debut with the Marlins near the end of the 2010 campaign, striking out three in 4.1 innings over three appearances while allowing only one hit. The following year, he went 2-1 over 45 appearances, with a 2.63 ERA, a 1.171 WHIP, and 55 strikeouts in 54.2 innings. He also collected his first three major league saves. On September 4th, he pitched a scoreless 11th and 12th innings of a 14-inning, 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He continued his extra-inning heroics 13 days later, pitching a scoreless 10th and 11th in a 4-1, 13-inning victory over the Washington Nationals.
In 2012, the Marlins changed their moniker from Florida to Miami, but Cishek stayed on with the team. He posted a 5-2 record over 68 games, with a 2.69 ERA, a 1.304 WHIP, and 68 whiffs in 63.2 innings. His 9.6 K’s per nine and his 7.6 hits per nine allowed led the team. Midway through the campaign, he inherited the closer role from underperforming offseason acquisition Heath Bell, and saved 15 games for the Marlins down the stretch. On May 2nd, he earned his third win of the season when he struck out three over two innings of a 3-2 10-inning win against the San Francisco Giants. Two days later, he earned his fourth win when he struck out three Padres over three innings, pitching the 10th through the 12th in a 9-8 win over San Diego.
In 2013, Cishek was one of four qualifying Marlins to average over a strikeout per inning (9.6), along with Jose Fernandez (9.7), A.J. Ramos (9.7), and Mike Dunn (9.6). In 69 games, he posted a 4-6 record with a 2.33 ERA, a team-second 1.077 WHIP, and 74 K’s in 69.2 innings. He also saved 34 games for the Marlins.
Cishek continued to display his steady dependability for the Marlins in 2014, going 4-5 with a 3.17 ERA over 67 games. He had a 1.209 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 65.1 innings, an 11.6 K per 9 rate. He again joined Jose Fernandez (12.2), Mike Dunn (10.6), and A.J. Ramos (10.3), along with Chris Hatcher (9.6) all performing at a level above a strikeout per inning. Cishek successfully saved a career high 39 games for the Marlins that season.
In 2015, Cishek lost the closer role to A.J. Ramos, but still pitched in 32 games for the Marlins. He went 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA, a 1.594 WHIP, and 28 K’s in 32.0 innings before the Marlins traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals for Kyle Barraclough. It seemed like a lousy trade then, but now seems like it was a good deal in hindsight. Cishek pitched in 27 games for the Cards, earning a 2.31 ERA and a 1.329 WHIP in 23.1 innings and striking out 20.
Cishek signed with the Seattle Mariners through free agency before the 2016 season, and went 4-6 with a 2.81 ERA and 25 saves last year. He earned a halcyon-day-like 1.016 WHIP and struck out 76 in 64.0 innings. The Mariners will pay him $6 million for his services in 2017.