With our final day of the player previews, it is only fitting that we finish with Marlins closer Steve Cishek. The excitement is in the air as pitchers and catchers have reported to Jupiter, Florida, and many will be looking toward Steve to be a leader. Cishek is coming off of a season in which he was arguably the most consistent Marlins’ player. Cishek saved 34 games out of the 62 that Miami won last year, converting a save in 56.7% of his teams wins, good for 3rd in the league.
The true strength to Steve’s season was his consistency. One testament to that was his consecutive save streak that he extended to 29 by season’s end, which was a new Marlins’ record. That save streak is still ongoing and Cishek will certainly look to extend that as the 2014 season gets underway. It is nice for Marlins’ fans to have a record in progress right out of the gate that we can look forward to.
Cishek’s tall, lanky frame, coupled with his side-arm delivery, treat right-handed hitters to one of the more difficult angles to hit a pitch in baseball. But his delivery doesn’t just confound righties, his offspeed pitches, particular the frisbee slider that he throws, are absolutely brutal on left-handed hitters as well.
This provides Steve with the complete package necessary to get the job done in at the closer position in the major leagues. Cishek enters this season avoiding arbitration with Miami after signing a 3.8 million dollar deal for 2014. This is a bargain for the Marlins as his WAR last year of 2.1 can attest. His value will increase as the Marlins presumably give him more opportunities to save games with a better offense this year.
Another strong first half of the season for Cishek could place the Marlins in a welcome predicament. The one place that the Marlins currently have the most depth would be the bullpen. With the addition of Carter Capps and Carlos Marmol, Miami now employs 4 pitchers who either have closed, or have the make-up of a closer in their bullpen (A.J. Ramos being the other). With Cishek still eligible for arbitration, but approaching free agency in a couple of seasons, his value may never be higher. Miami has repeatedly said that they are not interested in trading their talented closer, but that could change if the right prospects become available in exchange for his services.
I am hoping that Cishek stays with the team, but the bottom line is that Steve will eventually get paid, and he deserves it. It is tough to see Miami paying Cishek his value for a long-term contract anytime soon with their payroll restrictions. Even if Cishek enters arbitration next season, he is likely to double his potential salary to around 7 million a year, probably more than Miami is willing to pay with cheaper arms in the bullpen.
As one of my son’s favorite players, I hope I am wrong, but I am prepared for reality. Nevertheless, Cishek is currently the Marlins closer, and one of the best in the National League. If he continues his dominance into the first half of the 2014 season, we will certainly see him in a new jersey in July, an All-Star jersey that is.