To this point, the Marlins have yet to acquire an established closer. And while the team may still add additional bullpen help before the start of the season, the ninth inning looks to be up for grabs between Yimi García and newcomer Anthony Bass.
Fish Stripes’ own Ethan Budowsky wrote last week about what should be a fascinating competition. In here, I’ll mention some more key factors that Marlins decision-makers can take into consideration.
Marlins fans are already familiar with García, as he delivered a great first season in 2020. In 15 innings across 14 appearances, the Dominican righty was good for a 0.60 ERA, five walks, and 19 strikeouts. But we’re here to discuss Bass’ chances to serve as the team’s closer in 2021, with García probably being the setup guy.
Bass is the one with more experience closing games despite having never been a full-time ninth-inning man. Since 2019, between Seattle and Toronto, he racked up 12 of the 15 saves he’s accumulated over his career.
Aside from the fact that the Marlins may stick with García as their setup guy based on what he’s already done with the team, Bass poses a legitimate threat to garner the closer’s role in 2021.
A quick glance at his Baseball Savant profile and you won’t find too many more relievers like him at his price. In terms of expected statistics, he ranks among the best, which lets you have a sense of what might be around the corner for the 33-year-old righty.
Besides that, he keeps improving year by year. For example, in 2020, opponents whiffed at a 28.0% rate, a career-high for Bass. Also, he limited chase contact% to a career-low 42.6%. This is all part of Bass’ improvements after coming back from Japan, which marked a critical turning point in his career.
A major point in Bass’ case to be the Marlins’ closer in 2021 is his slider. Not only did this pitch lead to a .188 opponent batting average and 13 strikeouts in 32 at-bats, but it also generated a low exit velocity of 83.1 MPH.
As a closer, you need an out pitch. Bass uses his slider to fool hitters, a pitch that generated a 52.2 Whiff%.
That stat ranked fifth in the Majors among pitchers who threw their slider at least 30% of the time, trailing only Edwin Díaz, Amir Garrett, Víctor González, and Félix Peña.
Think of Bass as a Brandon Kintzler that can strike hitters out, allow fewer baserunners, and fewer home runs. Like Kintzler, Bass is great at inducing ground balls: 62.3 (according to FanGraphs), the sixth-best number among MLB qualified relievers in 2020.
If the Marlins don’t acquire a closer soon, Bass should definitely get the opportunity to embrace the closer’s role in Miami.
If the Marlins don’t get an established closer, who should be the guy for the ninth inning?
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