Does Brandon Kintzler Have What it Takes to Close for the Marlins?

PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Brandon Kintzler #20 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, FLORIDA - MARCH 03: Brandon Kintzler #20 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Clover Park on March 03, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Brandon Kintzler had been named the probable Miami Marlins closer early in camp.

But does he have what it takes to get the job done? The Miami Marlins have a lot of other possibilities if they need a guy to go and get three outs. Alex Vesia comes to mind.

Brandon Kintzler is a six-foot-one, 180 lb. right-handed sinker ball pitcher from Las Vegas, NV. Born on August 1, 1984, he’s the oldest player in the Miami Marlins organization.

Originally chosen in the 40th round of the 2003 draft by the New York Yankees out of Pasadena City College, Kintzler played another season of college ball before coming out. He was again drafted in the 40th round the following season, by the San Diego Padres out of Dixie State College.

Kintzler signed with the Padres and remained in their system for two years before getting released. He then spent three years in independent league ball before piquing the interest of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009. He made his major league debut for them in 2010, at the age of 25.

In six seasons as a reliever for the Brewers, Kintzler racked up a 10-9 record with a 3.38 ERA in 172 relief appearances, with 134 strikeouts in 181 innings to go with a solid-if-unspectacular 1.287 WHIP. He saved zero games during that time.

In 2016, Kintzler signed a free agent deal to join the Minnesota Twins, and for the first time was cast as a “closer.” He saved 17 contests, appearing in 54 overall and holding opponents to a 1.233 WHIP. He only walked eight batters in 54 1/3 innings. He remained with the Twins in 2017, and made his first All Star appearance for them. He saved 28 games prior to the trade deadline, then was sent to the Washington Nationals for Jhon Romero.

Since then, Kintzler hasn’t been relied on to hold ninth inning leads with any regularity. He played two years with the Nats, going 3-3 with a 3.54 ERA in 72 games, then joined the Chicago Cubs midway through 2018 and went 5-4 with a 3.72 ERA in 86 games. He saved a total of four games between the two teams.

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For his career, Kintzler has a 70 percent save success rate, converting 49-of-70 opportunities. Never considered a strikeout pitcher, he’s whiffed 299 in 424 1/3 career innings for a 6.3 K/9 rate. He’s always been reliant on good control, a sinker that keeps the ball on the ground for the most part, and an unwillingness to surrender the long-ball to get the job done. To wit, he has a 2.3 career BB/9 and a HR/9 of 0.8.

Kintzler throws that sinker ball 68.5 percent of the time, per Baseball Savant. He rounds out his stable of pitches with a changeup (17.5 percent), a slider (10.2 percent) and an infrequent four-seam fastball (3.7 percent).

I have no doubt that Kintzler can contribute as the Miami Marlins designated closer. I do think, however, that there are other players in the bullpen who are more suited to the role. What do you think?

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