Former Florida Marlins reliever Robb Nen is the franchise leader with 108 saves to his credit.
Born 50 years ago today, former Marlins right-handed reliever Robb Nen was initially a 32nd round selection of the Texas Rangers in the 1987 MLB Amateur Entry Draft. Chosen 831st overall, Nen is the only player chosen at that position to ever graduate to the majors.
Six years after his selection, Nen made his major league debut with the Rangers, striking out 12 and walking an incredible 26 in just 22 2/3 innings with Texas. I guess the Rangers had their mind made up at that point, and traded Nen along with RHP Kurt Miller to the Marlins for RHP Cris Carpenter on July 17th.
To be fair, though, Nen was only marginally better with the inaugural version of the Marlins, pitching to a 7.02 ERA over 33 1/3 innings, along with a 1.650 WHIP.
1994 would see Nen starting to come into his own as a reliever. Although not a closer for the full season, Nen nevertheless ranked fourth in the National League with 2.8 WPA in only 58 innings pitched. He was 5-5 with 15 saves, a solid 2.95 ERA, 60 whiffs and a near-elite 1.086 WHIP. Nen’s 15 saves did lead the team, which also saw Jeremy Hernandez (nine saves) and Bryan Harvey (six saves) close games.
As the heir apparent closer when the 1995 season finally got underway in late-April, Nen didn’t get his first save until over a month into the campaign. An 0-7 record and a regression to a 1.294 WHIP didn’t sour Miami on Nen, who saved 23 games and struck out 68 and 65 2/3 innings. He ended up leading the NL with 54 games finished in the shortened season.
Nen turned in his best Marlins season in 1996, bettering his three all-star seasons later with the San Francisco Giants going by his FIP mark of 2.06. He went 5-1 with a major league sixth 35 saves, with a 1.95 ERA and 92 K’s in 83 frames. His 3.7 WPA ranked ninth in the Senior Circuit, his 66 games finished ranked second, he ranked 10th with 20 adjusted pitching runs, and he was also sixth with 75 appearances overall.
Despite a career high in wins in 1997, and a World Series Championship for the Marlins, Nen had a down year. Although he was 9-3 with a 3.89 ERA, his WHIP ballooned up to a mark of 1.514. Nen still ranked sixth in the NL with 35 saves, then earned four more saves in the playoffs. Sometimes, you aren’t really aware that you’re actually in “the good old days,” but such was the case for Nen and the 1997 Marlins.
World Championship in hand, Miami traded Nen to the Giants following the season for Mick Pageler, Mike Villano, and Joe Fontenot. Of the three, only Fontenot made it to the majors, going 0-7 with a 6.33 ERA over eight starts in 1998.
As for Nen, he pitched five seasons in the Bay Area for the Giants, saving another 206 contests and racking up a 1.084 WHIP in 365 appearances. He made the all-star team in 1998, 1999, and 2002.
Just prior to the 2003 season, Nen was placed on the injured list with a strained right shoulder, and never again pitched in affiliated ball.
Other Marlins Birthdays
Shortstop Walt Weiss (56) joined the Marlins in an expansion-draft-day trade with the Oakland Athletics. He would go on to rank second on the team with 158 games played, and hit .266/.367/.308. He drew more walks (79) than strikeouts collected (73). He later played for the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves. From 2013 through 2016, he collected a 283-365 as the manager for the Rockies.
Starting pitcher John Burkett (55) signed with the Marlins through free agency prior to the late start of the 1995 season. In a season-and-a-half, he was 20-24 with a 4.31 ERA over 54 starts. He struck out 234 in 342 1/3 innings.
RHP Manny Aybar (50) pitched an eight-season major league career from 1997 through 2005. In 2000, he was 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in 27 1/3 innings for the Marlins.
Angel Sanchez (30) joined the Marlins in a multi-player deal that sent Ricky Nolasco to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sanchez was 4-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts for the 2013 Jupiter Hammerheads. He then started 12 games for the 2014 Jacksonville Suns, and went 0-8 with a 6.88 ERA. Sanchez later made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017.
Catcher Taylor Davis (30) was chosen by the Marlins in the 49th round of the 2008 draft, but never signed. He’s since been part of the Chicago Cubs organization since, making his major league debut in 2017.
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2000 – Mike Tosar was hired as the Marlins scouting director until joining the Seattle Mariners in 2006 as a manager. He’s currently listed as an international scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2010 – Javier Vazquez signed with the Marlins, and for the 12th straight season completed the season with double-digit major league wins, despite playing with six different teams during that time. He was 13-11 for the 2011 Marlins, with a 3.69 ERA and 162 whiffs in 192 2/3 innings.
2014 – Aaron Crow joined the Marlins from the Kansas City Royals organization for Brian Flynn and Reid Redman. Crow was a Marlin officially for the full 2015 season, but spent the whole thing on the injured list with a right elbow strain. Meanwhile, Flynn is still part of the Royals, and has pitched to a 6-9 record and a 3.76 ERA over parts of four seasons.