We all remember what happened, so there is no reason to be reminded anymore. The Miami Marlins signing of Heath Bell last off-season was terrible. Heath Bell was terrible. With Bell on the mound, absolutely no lead was considered safe. When there is a problem, you need to fix it. Enter: Steve Cishek.
After trading Heath Bell this off-season, the Marlins are heading into 2013 with Cishek set to take over the closer role. Drafted by the Marlins in the 5th round of the 2007 draft, Cishek was never looked at to be a major contributor. If everyone is honest, not too many Marlin fans actually knew who the kid was 3 years ago.
However the silence only propelled Cishek even more. Minus a couple down seasons, Cishek had been very good and very consistent in the minors. The sinkerballer catches many eyes due to his weird and funky side arm delivery. He also carries with him an above average slider, a healthy fastball, and a developing change up. The 26 year old Cishek used his delivery and talents to earn a consistent spot in the Marlins bullpen the past 2 years and has thrived. In 2012, Cishek pitched his way to a 2.69 ERA while added 15 saves. He also recorded 68 strikeouts in 63.2 innings pitched. While he has room to improve (need’s to drop his BB’s and tendency to be wild), he is starting to catch the eyes of some baseball greats.
Perhaps his best accomplishment in his career to date, Cishek was given a spot to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and did nothing but impress. An example was the game against the loaded Dominican Republic. Steve entered the game during the 7th inning with the go ahead run at second. Facing Miguel Tejada, Cishek forced a comebacker to the mound on an 0-1 count. Using his momentum, Cishek came back out for the 8th to strike out two of the best infielders in baseball in Robinson Cano and Hanley Ramirez on three pitches each. He also got a ground out from power hitting Edwin Encarnacion. Impressive indeed! In fact, Cishek has impressed so much he has caught the eye of Greg Maddux and Joe Torre.
“I didn’t know a whole lot about him,” Torre said. “The people that have seen him basically talked him up because of his ability. He’s special, there’s no question. I mean, his ceiling is pretty high for me. I was very impressed with him.”
“He’s done it every time,” Maddux said. “He’s kind of saved us when guys have been on base. He kept the game right there, kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win. It just didn’t work out for us. I like watching him pitch.”
As Torre pointed out, both he and Maddux were not too familiar with Cishek coming into the competition. I think it’s safe to say they, along with a lot of other avid baseball fan’s now know who this Cishek guy is.
“I wasn’t lucky enough to see him (the last couple of years),” Maddux said. “Very impressive. He’s got a very good delivery. He repeats it. He throws strikes. He throws hard. He throws from a weird angle. He can change speeds, He can control his emotions. He does everything you want a good closer to do.”
Cishek, one of my personal favorite players, not only has his baseball game down, but also his passion for the game. Known as a great team player and leader, you can also catch Cishek talking up his team and personal game on his twitter account. You can also see his fire and determination as he performs on the mound. He is always locked in and is that type of player that you know will give you his best effort every outing he makes. As a coach and GM, that is all you can ask for.
“I think we’ve seen a pretty good example of his passion,” Torre said. “He’s been pumped up after he’s done the job.”
I think the World Baseball Classic was just a sneak peak for what the future hold’s in Cishek. This kid has potential out the roof, and has the drive and persona to make his adjustments pay off. While there may not be to many leads for the Marlins going into the 9th on the season, when they do have one, Cishek will do his job.