Miami Marlins Revamped Bullpen Key to a Successful Season

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JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins warms up before the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 23, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 23: Elieser Hernandez #57 of the Miami Marlins warms up before the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 23, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins made some major changes to their bullpen for the 2020 season, bringing in veterans and young talent alike. The hope is that this revamped ‘pen will help the Marlins win in 2020.

Last season, the Marlins featured one of the worst bullpens in all of Major League Baseball. Miami relievers posted the fifth-worst ERA (4.97), strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.11) and save percentage (55.1). Their WHIP (1.45) was seventh-worst in MLB.

Miami was tied with Baltimore for the fewest saves (27) in 2019. Relievers blew 22 save opportunities and surrendered a .235 batting-average-against and .343 on-base percentage.

“You look at our overall bullpen performance, and it was not good,” said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill in December.

And considering Marlins CEO Derek Jeter said, “You win with pitching and defense,” during an interview with MLB Tonight yesterday, it’s no surprise the front office turned over the bulk of the bullpen.

Gone are Wei-Yin Chen, Jarlin Garcia, Tyler KinleyTayron Guerrero, Austin Brice and Jose Quijada, as well as seven others who made relief appearances for the Marlins last season.

They’ve brought in a variety of talent, veterans and young arms, and in doings so, they’re hoping for a more productive relief contingent to secure wins.

Bullpen Additions for 2020

MIAMI, FL – JULY 10: American League All-Star Brandon Kintzler #27 of the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL – JULY 10: American League All-Star Brandon Kintzler #27 of the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

The biggest addition for the bullpen in 2020 is 35-year-old Brandon Kintzler. The 11-year MLB veteran signed a one-year, $3.25 million deal with the Marlins and enters Spring Training as the presumptive closer.

In 2019 with the Chicago Cubs, Kintzler posted a 2.68 ERA primarily as a setup man. In 2018, Kintzler registered 29 saves in 35 opportunities while pitching for the Minnesota Twins and Washington Nationals.

During his interview with MLB Tonight, Kintzler revealed that he signed with the Marlins, in part, because he “liked the challenge of helping the team turn the corner.”

He referenced his time with the Twins, where the team went from 59-103 and fifth in the AL Central in 2016 to 85-77 and finishing second in the AL Central, earning a Wild Card berth in 2017.

That veteran experience should prove invaluable for the Marlins, especially in the bullpen.

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JUPITER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 19: Brad Boxberger #33 of the Miami Malrins. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Beyond Kintzler, Miami brought in several other veterans with MLB experience, including 34-year-old Pat Venditte and 31-year-old Brad Boxberger. Both come to the Marlins on minor-league deals and will take part in the Spring Training with a shot to make the club out of camp.

Venditte is a “switch” pitcher, someone who can throw with either hand. Over his four-year big-league career, Venditte has gone 2-2 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.309 WHIP over 68 innings pitched. He’s registered 53 strikeouts and 28 walks over that span. Venditte throws harder as a righty, but is more effective as a lefty. His addition could help manager Don Mattingly deal with MLB’s new three-batter rule.

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Boxberger comes with a better resume, but really struggled in 2019. With Kansas City last season, he posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over just 26.2 innings pitched before getting cut. Boxberger has 77 career saves, 3.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP over MLB eight seasons, including a league-leading 41 with Tampa Bay in 2015. In 2018 with Arizona, he registered 32 saves. His experience will help if he makes the club.

Yimi Garcia is another veteran arm the Marlins brought in during the offseason. Garcia signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with Miami. The 29-year-old five-year MLB vet posted a 3.61 ERA and 0.87 WHIP over 62.1 innings pitched with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Garcia’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is 4.71-to-1, which is more than double the number the Marlins’ bullpen put up last season. A power arm, Garcia throws strikes and avoids walks, two things that will help any bullpen.

These veterans will help the development of younger arms like newcomers Stephen Tarpley, Sterling Sharp and Alex Vesia. They’ll join incumbent Marlins relievers Jeff Brigham, Adam Conley, Ryne Stanek and Drew Steckenrider.

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