Marlins designate Marmol, call up Rodriguez

SAN DIEGO — A year ago, with the Marlins in a developmental mode, the leash would have been longer. But now, a season removed from 100 losses, the Marlins find themselves playing meaningful games in early May.

Expectations are higher, and performance matters.

That’s why Carlos Marmol, signed as a free agent to provide experience to the back end of a young bullpen, was designated for assignment on Sunday. Henry Rodriguez, armed with a 100 mph fastball along with a wild streak, had his contract selected from Triple-A New Orleans.

Rodriguez, a non-roster invitee at Spring Training, has posted some interesting numbers. In 19 1/3 innings for the Zephyrs, he has struck out 37, but walked 23. His ERA is 3.26.

Entering the season, the Marlins were hopeful Marmol could emerge in a setup role. He was part of the plan to cover the seventh and eighth innings. But he struggled with an 8.10 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, and after he gave up four runs in the sixth inning to the Padres on Saturday night, he became expendable.

Rodriguez gets chance to contribute now. He gives the bullpen another power arm.

Rodriguez and Carter Capps each can routine reach 100 mph in velocity. If they can throw enough strikes, the bullpen will have two big weapons.

In the meantime, the bullpen remains the biggest area of concern for the club.

Thus far, the team has missed the production and innings logged a year ago by Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls. Webb was non-tendered and signed a two-year deal with Baltimore, and Qualls signed a multi-year contract with the Astros.

The Marlins are checking the market for available relief help.

They need additional options to take the pressure off A.J. Ramos and Mike Dunn. Ramos and closer Steve Cishek each have logged 15 innings, and Dunn is at 14 1/3 innings.

A few days ago, the Marlins signed Alex Sanabia to a Minor League contract. Sanabia reports to Jupiter, Fla., on Monday, and when he is game ready he will head to Triple-A New Orleans.

Sanabia rejoins the Marlins’ organization after he was released by Arizona. In time, he provides a long-relief option with big league experience.

If this were last year, when the Marlins were grooming young players, they may have stuck with Marmol a bit longer to eat up some innings. But now, in the thick of the NL East race, the demands for production are immediate.

Joe Frisaro

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