How the Oakland A's have given the 2024 Miami Marlins a perfect bullpen blueprint

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins - Game Three
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins - Game Three / Elsa/GettyImages

There is no hiding the fact that the early-season, 2024 Miami Marlins have a plethora of issues. Their starting rotation is without former Cy Young candidate Sandy Alcantara, ace Eury Perez and others. Their bats have not produced timely hits. And their overall roster seems to be struggling. However, the club's bullpen struggles may be at the very top of their concerns.

Breakout closer Tanner Scott followed up a suspect Spring Training with inconsistency in key regular season moments. As a reminder, Scott's six MLB seasons before 2023 were plagued with control issues and a 4+ ERA.

The veteran seems to have turned a corner in his career. And he could very well be a closing-caliber weapon in 2024 and beyond. However, he clearly has his fair share of on-field red flags.

Additionally, the lefty is also working on a one-year, $5.7 million contract. If he does rebound and posts solid ERA and save totals, he will likely command a sizable raise in 2024. If the team continues to stumble, he would be a prime candidate to be moved at the trade deadline for pieces with more team control.

Either way, it feels increasingly likely that the small-market Marlins will be hard-pressed to retain Scott beyond this season.

For what it's worth, the rest of the Fish's bullpen has also been an early-season disaster. High-leverage reliever Andrew Nardi had a 20.25 ERA at the time this article was being written. No... That is not a typo.

Anthony Bender and George Soriano both have ERAs north of six. And Vladimir Gutierrez has already been DFA'd.

The season is still early. And each aforementioned player has plenty of bounce-back potential. But the returns have been far from encouraging.

So what is the solution? Do the Marlins have the capability to correct this bullpen mess?

Thankfully, the Oakland Athletics have given the 2024 Marlins the perfect blueprint to solve all of these issues with one, simple, adjustment.

Allow me to paint a picture for you... The A's had a young, former starter with electric stuff. The type of player that had the potential to be an MLB strikeout leader and future ace of the team. However, injury concerns quickly derailed this vision and left the club asking a key question: How do we manage a dynamic, but brittle young pitcher?

The A's ultimately decided to kick off the 2024 season by transitioning this young star to a bullpen role. This puts him in a position where he can still showcase his elite stuff in high-leverage situations, while simultaneously limiting the wear and tear on his arm.

If you haven't connected the dots by now, this player is 25-year-old Mason Miler. And, while the young star is still finding his footing as a reliever, he has displayed the skillset and potential that has CBS's Chris Towers convinced that he could be "the best reliever in baseball."

How does this provide a template for the Miami Marlins? Interestingly enough, the Fish have a very similar former ace with pressing injury concerns in Sixto Sanchez.

Sanchez once displayed the pure stuff to draw credible comparisons to legendary ace and Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez. Tragically, he would follow up his premier 2020 campaign by missing all of the 2021, 2022, and 2023 seasons with various injuries.

However, the former star is now back with the major league club. He had a super encouraging Spring Training and has shown signs of his former dominance since his return to action.

What better way to set Sixto up for success in 2024 and beyond, than by putting him on the Mason Miller gameplan? Sanchez can still make a tangible on-field impact, without the wear of a big innings workload.

The Marlins clearly need help in their bullpen. And small doses of action could be exactly what Sanchez needs to carve out a long, sustainable, and successful professional career.

Manager Skip Schumaker would be wise to seriously consider leaning into the speculation, and transitioning the former ace into a high-leverage bullpen role. If successful there is every reason to believe that Sixto could become one of the most dangerous closer in all of baseball as early as the 204 season.

With the 25-year-old being under team control (pre-arbitration) through the 2026 season, Sixto to the bullpen has all the making of a match made in heaven.

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