Drew Steckenrider has a nearly limitless ceiling, but early last season, we also saw the floor.
Drew Steckenrider was Miami’s eighth-round pick in 2012, and after that, the 6-foot-5 right-hander started striking out opponents at will. In 239 1/3 minor league innings, he whiffed 9.7 batters per nine innings, a number that would actually increase slightly at the major league level with the Marlins.
Steckenrider made his major league debut and later spent his rookie status in 2017, pitching 34 2/3 innings and striking out 54 for a 14.0 K/9. Its a figure that would easily have led the team if he had pitched the requisite amount of innings to qualify for the leaderboard, besting noted strikeout specialist Kyle Barraclough by a wide margin. Steckenrider’s 2.34 ERA over 37 appearances was nifty as well, only tarnished slightly with a 3.10 FIP and a 1.385 WHIP.
2018 would see Steckenrider lead the Marlins pitching staff with an ERA+ of 99. That’s right, not a single player on the roster pitched even to the level of a National League “average” pitcher, but I digress. Steckenrider’s K/9 tailed off to a still near-elite mark of 10.3, with 74 more strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. The Marlins even tried him out at closer for a bit, where his 1.268 overall WHIP could be put to better use, but for whatever reason, Steck blew half of his 10 save opportunities.
Still though, Steckenrider’s stuff was evidently good enough to entrust in a setup role, which is where he settled in eventually to good effect. It should be noted at this point in his career, Steckenrider had surrendered approximately one homer per nine innings of work, 2.7 percent of the time.
And that’s where the confusion sets in, because in a small sample size to start the 2019 season, he allowed six homers in only 14 1/3 innings before landing on the injured list for the balance of the season. Despite that disappointing metric, Steckenrider still managed an encouraging 0.977 WHIP with 14 strikeouts.
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So what can the Marlins faithful expect from Steckenrider in 2020? He went on the 10-day injured list on May 8th with right-elbow inflammation, but four days later was transferred to the 60-day list. After a short rehab stint at the High-A level with the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, he underwent a procedure in August. He remained on the IL for the rest of the season, only getting moved back to the active 40-man roster on November 1st.
As noted by Marlin Maniac’s own David Levin earlier this month:
"For his career, Steckenrider sports a 5-7 record with 3.72 ERA. He is 6-for-12 in save opportunities. He throws two pitches, a 4-seam fastball, which averages 94.7 MPH, and a slider. Assuming he’s healthy, Steckenrider could get a look as the closer this spring, or perhaps a set-up man."
Despite his track record, Steckenrider remains a viable option for closer. As with all things, we’re just going to have to wait and see what, exactly happens. In the meantime, keep checking back here for Marlins news and updates.