Miami Marlins: Is the Closer of the Future Beginning to Emerge?
Out of all the stories from the 2021 MLB season up to this point, there are arguably none better than Miami Marlins relief pitcher Anthony Bender.
The journey of Bender to the big leagues is truly remarkable when you look at it in perspective. From late-round draft pick, lower-level minor leagues, and independent ball, it truly has been a journey for the 26-year old right-hander to where he currently is.
As mentioned about a month ago, we made an argument for the Marlins reliever to start receiving more higher-leverage opportunities. It certainly appears that we have finally reached that point where Bender is very-quickly emerging as a massive piece of the Marlins bullpen for the immediate future.
Is Miami Marlins reliever Anthony Bender emerging as the closer?
As mentioned previously, it has been a long journey for Bender to the big leagues. Originally a 20th Round pick by the Royals in the 2016 MLB Draft out of Santa Rosa Junior College (CA), Bender spent two seasons in the minor leagues with Kansas City reaching High-A.
After unfortunately being released in 2019, Bender signed with the Brewers about two months later posting a combined 1.49 ERA in 29 relief appearances across three different minor league levels. At the end of the 2019 season, Bender would spend time in Independent Ball playing with the Sioux Falls Explorers and the Milwaukee Milkmen.
Bender would be granted free agency in November of 2020, which is where as you most likely know by now, the Marlins signed the 26-year old. When looking back to this past offseason as well, aside from possibly Adam Duvall, is there a better free agent find for the Marlins other than Bender?
The 26-year old right-hander has been absolutely outstanding so far this season for Miami posting a phenomenal 0.68 ERA across 26.1 IP with 34 K’s to only seven walks. Only allowing two earned runs for the entire season up to this point, Bender appears to have emerged as a potential closing option for Miami going forward, collecting his first career save on Monday night against the Dodgers.
Whether or not he becomes Miami’s sole closer going forward will most-likely depend on what the club decides to do with Yimi Garcia at the MLB Trade Deadline. Even if they choose to keep Garcia, there is no denying Bender has certainly stated his case so far for at-least a closer-by-committee.
While he has been a fan-favorite among Marlins’ fans ever since he was called-up back in early May, Bender is beginning to emerge more on a national-level with his save against LA, along with his dominant “six strikeouts in six batters” performance last Friday in Atlanta.
While it remains to be seen on how the Marlins will use Bender out of the bullpen going forward, it is evident that he might be forcing his way in Miami’s 9th-inning role. That is not a bad thing either, as it will give the Miami Marlins a reliable and dominant late-inning option going forward.