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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 137a

Robb Nen remains the Marlins’ all-time saves leader.

World Series Game 5

The All-Time Countdown is rounding the corner and heading for home.

All offseason, we’ve been going through every player to appear with the Marlins in their 28 season major league history. Players are sorted by ascending bWAR divided by PA/BF. The final 128 in the series have collected at least 800 PA/BF with the franchise.

33. Robb Nen

Robb Nen is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from San Pedro, California. Back in 1987, the Texas Rangers chose him in the 32nd round out of Los Alamitos HS, with the 831st overall selection.

By the start of the 1993 season, with the Marlins getting underway for the first time, Nen was making his first major league appearances with the Rangers. He pitched to a 6.35 ERA over nine appearances, including one start. Two weeks prior to the trade deadline, Texas sent him to Florida with Kurt Miller (#278) for Cris Carpenter (#298). He finished out the season by posting a 7.02 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP in 33 13 innings out of the bullpen for the Marlins.

Nen came into his own in the lockout-shortened 1994 season, laying down a 1.086 WHIP in 44 contests, striking out 60 in 58 frames, and saving his first 15 major league games. Nen’s signature pitch was his slider, which was sometimes called, “The Terminator.” He also had an upper 90s fastball (which occasionally reached triple digits) to round out his repertoire. Nen’s unusual pitch delivery consisted of a pre-pitch foot tap.

There was some problem about my toe pointing down when I was coming up, and when I tried to correct it, I just literally stumbled into the tap thing. It was an accident. But when I did it, it felt right to me, and I could throw real hard that way so I stuck with it. - Nen (ESPN.COM)

Over the next three seasons, Nen saved another 93 games for the Fish, with another 241 strikeouts in 222 innings. His collected FIP over that time, 3.00, nearly matched his 2.99 ERA. In 1996, he ranked seventh in the National League with 75 appearances.

In Nen’s Marlins’ swan song, the 1997 postseason run, he saved four games, including two each in the National League Championship Series victory against the Atlanta Braves and their World Series victory over the Cleveland Indians. He appeared in eight contests overall through the playoffs, and the Marlins won all of them.

Nen didn’t survive the first of many Marlins’ fire sales after the championship. On November 18 after winning the series, Florida traded him with Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fontenot (#396). Nen pitched five seasons for the Giants, thrice making the All Star team and finishing fourth in the 2000 NL Cy Young Award vote.

Not only does Nen lead the Marlins all-time leaderboard in saves, with 108, he also leads the Giants, with 206.