Slumping Miami Marlins Need a Shot in the (Bullpen) Arm

JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Nick Neidert #87 of the Miami Marlins poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2018 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Nick Neidert #87 of the Miami Marlins poses for a portrait at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2018 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins were not expected to compete for a playoff position this year. None of us expected it.

However, the team is currently riding a six-game slump, losing all four games to the Philadelphia Phillies after dropping two games to the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunately, the Marlins were on the cusp of being considered somewhat competitive. They were 41-44 in the 85 games preceding the slide.

This is the second time this year that the Marlins have lost six-in-a-row. They had dropped three straight to the San Diego Padres to close May and three more to the Arizona Diamondbacks toped June. They’ll try to avoid the ignobility of dropping their seventh-in-a-row tomorrow night, when they open a three-game home-set against Marcell Ozuna and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Where is the Main Breakdown?

Clearly, the breakdown is in the bullpen. From the start of June through the end of July 29, the relief quartet of Brad Ziegler, Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley, and Kyle Barraclough each had held their own in game action.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – JULY 24: Drew Steckenrider #71 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on July 24, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
  • Brad Ziegler: 29 IP, 15 H, 11 BB, 22 SO, 0.93 ERA, .161 oppBA, 0.897 WHIP
  • Drew Steckenrider: 23.2 IP, 18 H, 11 BB, 1.52 ERA, .209 oppBA, 1.225 WHIP
  • Adam Conley: 25 IP, 15 H, 11 BB, 3.96 ERA, .174 oppBA, 1.040 WHIP
  • Kyle Barraclough: 21.2 IP, 17 H, 9 BB, 3.74 ERA, .210 oppBA, 1.200 WHIP

Barraclough has shown signs of coming down for awhile now. After allowing two hits through the month of May and just one hit through June, July would see him give up 16 in 9 2/3 innings. From June 21st through now, he has allowed 11 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, on nine hits and three walks. He’s only struck out four over that time.

Steckenrider has still been solid most of the time. He did allow two runs on Sunday in his inning of work, driving his ERA from 3.19 to 3.49 for the season.

Adam Conley
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 08: Adam Conley #61 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the fifth inning during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 8, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Conley’s brand new approach has also been mostly solid. He has also shown signs of coming apart. In his last four innings of work, he has allowed four runs on five hits and four walks while only getting two to miss on strike three.

For what it’s worth, Ziegler has surrendered five hits and a walk for four runs in 1 2/3 innings since joining the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Building Up?

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Miami’s current bullpen is Conley, Barraclough, Steckenrider, Jarlin Garcia, Brett Graves, Javy Guerra, recently rehabbed Tayron Guerrero, and Elieser Hernandez. Drew Rucinski is also on his way back, rehabbing in Miami’s minor-league system. Guerrero’s shown flashes of brilliance, Guerra has been very good since joining the team, for the most part, and Garcia, remember, went nearly 11 no-hit innings when first joining the Marlins rotation. Sandy Alcantara is also slated to be back soon.

With the roster expanding to 40 on September 1st, expect to see a combination of Nick Wittgren, Ben Meyer, Dillon Peters, Odrisamer Despaigne, and possibly Joe Gunkel, Miguel Del Pozo and James Needy join the club.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – JUNE 25: Nick Wittgren #64 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the ninth inning during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Nick Neidert is not on the 40-man roster, but the Marlins should find a way to get him there. He may be the shot in the arm that I mentioned in the title of this article. The 21-year-old Atlanta native is 10-6 this season with a 2.95 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and 131 whiffs in 125 innings for the double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. The Miami Marlins acquired him in the Dee Gordon trade last December.

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