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2019 Marlins Season Preview: Drew Steckenrider

Offseason moves leave Steckenrider as a contender for the closer job, even though he may not be ready yet.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

How did he get here? Drafted in the 8th round of the 2012 MLB Draft.

2018 MLB Stats: 3.90 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 74 K in 64.2 IP

2019 ZiPS Projection: 3.67 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 1.35 WHIP, 71 K in 61.1 IP

Drew Steckenrider had his first full season last year, and it was a good first step. The overall numbers were nothing crazy, but he did get hot for extended periods and show the potential to pile up strikeouts. He showed he could work under pressure and pitch through different situations. He did not have a defined role, usually coming in during the seventh or eighth innings.

Steckenrider leans very heavily on his mid-90s fastball (threw it 75.7 percent of the time in 2018), but the slider is his best secondary pitch. He even uses it against left-handed batters occasionally:

Under normal circumstances, a reliever like Steckenrider would continue to develop in a setup role over the next few years and maybe one day ascend to closer. The rebuilding of the Marlins has sped up this process a bit. Kyle Barraclough was the closer last season, but has since taken his talents to the Washington Nationals. Brad Ziegler, who also handled some ninth-inning reps, was traded in July, then promptly retired in October.

Though Don Mattingly has suggested that the Marlins won’t slot any reliever as their full-time closer moving forward, free agent signing Sergio Romo figures to do that duty frequently considering his long track record. Steckenrider’s Spring Training performance has made that pecking order clearer, as he’s currently rocking a 9.39 ERA in 6 23 innings of work. Romo, on the other hand, has a 3.95 ERA in 7 13 innings of work.

There is no need to rush Steckenrider into the closer role. He would probably develop better in low pressure situations, anyway. He has shown that his stuff can miss bats and that is important. The 28-year-old is a lock for the Opening Day roster and should remain in the big leagues throughout 2019.