After rough outing Marlins demote Ellington and recall Steckenrider

Jun 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (11) talks with relief pitcher Brian Ellington (49) in the ninth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto (11) talks with relief pitcher Brian Ellington (49) in the ninth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Marlins have made a move to bolster their bullpen. Steckenrider up, Ellington down.

The Brian Ellington experiment is over. At least for now. On Saturday, the Miami Marlins decided to swap hard-throwing right handers.

Brian Ellington was optioned to the AAA New Orleans Baby Cakes. In kind, the team recalled Drew Steckenrider. News broke after reporters noticed that Ellington’s locker had been cleaned out.

The move doesn’t come as a surprise. Ellington hasn’t managed to face the minimum all season. Last night he was pulled after giving up two runs and failing to record an out.

Most concerning of all was the way that batters were getting on base. Ellington has always struggled with command, but early in the season it appeared he’d put those issues behind him. The base-on-balls-bugaboo has reared its head again in a major way recently.

Ellington has walked at least one batter in his last five appearances. Trickle-down difficulties have caused his ERA to ballon.

He’s managed to pitch only 4.1 innings in that time, and his ERA over that period is 20.77. He’s allowed 10 earned runs and walked eight batters. Unrest over his performance began to come to a head after he let the second game of the Cubs series get out of hand.

Entering the game with the Marlins down 4-2, Ellington needed to hold the Cubs to within striking distance. The offense had scored a run at the top of the inning and was showing signs of life. He managed to record only one out, allowing six runs to cross the plate and putting the game out of reach.

On consecutive nights, Ellington has failed to retire the side without allowing earned runs. Last nights performance against the Pirates was enough to warrant a demotion.

Steckenrider up

With Ellington getting demoted, the team recalled right-hander Drew Steckenrider. Similar to Ellington in a lot of ways, Steckenrider was considered MLB ready when April rolled around this spring. Offseason additions to the bullpen and a number of right-handed arms blocked his promotion.

He made his Major League debut earlier this season, pitching one inning in a losing effort to the Oakland A’s. Steckenrider didn’t allow a run in the inning, but he struggled against the jump in talent. He needed 24 pitches and allowed a hit in his inning of work.

He did manage a strikeout, though.

His minor league stats are impressive. Good enough to justifiably give him an opportunity. With a 1.65 ERA over 27.1 innings, Steckenrider appears ready to make the jump. Similar to Ellington, he features a power fastball that he relies on heavily. Command will be his key to getting outs at the highest level.

What it means moving forward

It could mean that Steckenrider is here to stay. Ellington won’t waste away in the minor leagues forever, though. He has the ability to pitch well in the Major Leagues and is a part of the Miami Marlins future bullpen plans.

This likely amounts to him needing to work things out; reset his brain a little bit in AAA. Expect him back at some point this season. Hopefully at full potential and sooner rather than later. He’ll be 27 during this baseball season, and is outgrowing the “prospect” title quickly.

If Steckenrider proves he is ready to be a contributing member of an elite bullpen, it’s a huge boost for the club. After committing large sums of cash to the pen in the offseason, the homegrown talent might prove to be the break out stars of the unit.

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Brian Ellington’s future with the team isn’t in any jeopardy. With years of team control and elite velocity, the team wants him to figure it out. Look for his stay to be brief, perhaps a month or so. For Steckenrider, his time is now. Carpe diem, flamethrower.