The Miami Marlins appear to have struck gold with the emergence of Drew Steckenrider out of the bullpen.
After years of shut down appearances in the minor leagues, Drew Steckenrider is continuing the trend at the highest level. Of all of the callups that the Miami Marlins have been forced to make this season, none are working out better than he is.
Steckenrider is quietly putting together one of the most impressive seasons out of the bullpen of any Miami Marlins player, rookie or not. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has looked the part of future closer in his 21 appearances this season.
The Miami Marlins might have had the foundations for their super bullpen at home all along.
On Friday, Steckenrider was called upon to pitch the seventh inning of a two-run game against the New York Mets. He showed up in a major way. He faced the minimum, threw 12 of his 16 pitches for strikes, and struck out the side. Dominance.
It was more of the same for the flame-thrower whose golden locks spill from under his cap. In only 21 Major League appearances, he’s become one of the most reliable pitchers in the Miami Marlins stable.
This season, Steckenrider has pitched to a 1.86 ERA, while notching 27 strikeouts in only 19 innings. Over his last nine appearances, he’s allowed three hits, and no earned runs to cross the plate. He’s fanned 13 batters in that span, and issued zero walks.
Any way you slice it, Steckenrider has been a revelation coming out of the bullpen. He’s done enough to keep himself with the pro club next season, the question is where he slots in the bullpen.
The future for Steckenrider
So early in his career, the team will be hesitant to award him the ultimate role: closer. They’d like to see more sustained success before bestowing him with the task of retiring the last three outs of the game. But if things continue, it’s only a matter of time.
For years, it has been assumed that Kyle Barraclough would assume the duties of closer after AJ Ramos was no longer with the team. Well, he’s not, and he isn’t. Barraclough was on the disabled list when Ramos was dealt, and veteran Brad Ziegler has done well in the role.
The side-arming righty isn’t a long-term answer for Miami, and eventually they’ll have to name one. Barraclough has the most experience, but he’s also struggled with his consistency at various points of his career.
He remains the likeliest option, but it’s hardly a forgone conclusion.
Steckenrider is showing everything you could possibly want out of future closer. With his rookie status still intact through 2017, Steckenrider offers the long-term control that teams desire at that position.