It’s a fact. Rob Nen is the greatest closer in the history of the Miami Marlins and it isn’t even close.
I knew when this topic came up, it might be one of the harder discussions we have had regarding who might be the best closer in Miami Marlins history.
Let’s just be honest. Over the past few years, the position has been weak, if not flawed. Since he took over as manager in 2016, Don Mattingly has had issues finding one person to assume the role and to fill the prophecy of saving baseball games. It’s been a nightmare many teams only hope to avoid.
The “closure by committee” approach hasn’t worked either as players through the years have been given the task, asked to get a few outs, and have fallen flat. Sergio Romo was the closest thing to a sure thing the Marlins have had a number of years, but he was dealt with the MLB trade deadline last year. He served as a rent-a-player but gave the Marlins but they needed during a 57-105 season.
Miami received Lewin Diaz from the Minnesota Twins in return for Romo who is part of the Twins playoff run at the end of the season. Diaz figures to be the Marlins’ first basemen of the future. He could be in the Majors as early as this season.
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For every Romo, there has been plenty of Fernando Rodney to go around. Hopefully, the addition of Brandon Kintzler this year from the Chicago Cubs in free agency will put an end to speculation that the Marlins have no idea what they’re doing when trying to find somebody to fulfill the ninth-inning role.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins greatest closure of all time is Robb Nen. The Marlins beat writer took to Twitter again for leaving a pole to ask friends who they thought was the team’s best clothes are in the history of the organization. Nen won by a landslide.
“The son of former big-league first baseman Dick Nen, Robb was a 32nd-round pick by the Rangers in the 1987 MLB Draft, Frisaro wrote of Nen, who played in Miami from 1993 to 1997. “In July of their inaugural 1993 season, the Marlins swung a trade with Texas that turned out to be a steal. Nen was acquired for right-hander Cris Carpenter (not to be confused with former Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter).”
This season, the Marlins are counting on Kintzler to stabilize the bullpen. He’s also being asked to take over a lead and hold it, which is something Marlins starters were not able to benefit from last season.
The Miami Marlins front office made sure it did a solid job of revamping the bullpen this off-season adding a mixture of veterans and young players who are expected to stop the bleeding of one of the weaker units in MLB last season.
Who knows what Sandy Alcântara’s record would have been had if pitchers had been able to hold leads while the youngster pitched germs that were translated into lost outings.
The Marlins pitching staff could take a page out of Nen’s book and learn from it.
“Then 23, Nen made one start and 14 relief appearances in ’93. From there he blossomed into a shut-down closer, and he remains the Marlins’ all-time leader in saves, with 108. Nen spent parts of five seasons with the Marlins, and recorded back-to-back 35-save campaigns in 1996-97,” Frisaro added.
“In 1996 he had a 1.95 ERA in 83 innings, and he followed that up with a 9-3 record and 3.89 ERA in 74 innings on the 1997 World Series title team. He had four saves in the postseason, including two in the World Series.”
Not only does it look like the Miami Marlins have a decent bullpen to start the season, but a belief that the starters and relievers down on the farm could develop into stars of the future. It’s conceivable somebody like Jorge Guzman, who is one of the team’s top pitching prospects could be converted from a starter to the team’s closer of the future.
The Marlins also have Dylan Lee, who could get a long look this season. The team also has Alex Vesia, who could be converted to the role in the future
But for now, no one has been able to find the same kind of success as Nen has had while being a part of the Marlins organization.
For his career, Nen converted 108 of 128 save chances.
“His career flourished after he was dealt to the Giants in 1998, as he became a three-time All-Star, and he finished his career with 314 saves,” Frisaro wrote.