Closer options include perhaps Soriano
LOS ANGELES — First, let’s address the news. The Marlins have indeed expressed interest in Rafael Soriano, the 35-year-old with 207 games. There has been some dialogue between the team and agent Scott Boras.
The signing price likely won’t come cheap, and whether a deal gets done will depend on if Miami believes Soriano is the right closer option for the price. A year ago with Washington, the right-hander saved 32 of 39 chances.
But Soriano isn’t the only alternative as the Marlins frantically try to figure out what to do about locking down the final outs of games.
Steve Cishek has been among the most reliable players on the team over the past few seasons. Homegrown, the side-arm throwing right-hander converted 39 of 43 in 2014. He had a WHIP of 1.21 and struck out 84, while walking 21, in 65 1/3 innings.
Cishek definitely earned his long leash. He’s saved 94 of 108 in his impressive career.
That’s why it was absolutely the right call to send Cishek out in the ninth inning on Monday, the day after the right-hander blew a chance at San Francisco. Manager Mike Redmond showed faith in his veteran. Once again, the end result was another painful finish. Scott Van Slyke blasted a walk-off, three-run homer, lifting the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory.
Miami, now 3-5 on the road trip, has seen three late leads disappear on what could have been a remarkable 10-game road swing through Washington, San Francisco and now Los Angeles.
In the first game of the trip at Nationals Park, it was Bryan Morris who couldn’t protect a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning. Washington responded for four runs in the inning, and won 6-4.
On Sunday, Cishek walked Nori Aoki with the bases loaded, forcing in the tying run in the ninth inning. Matt Duffy’s walk-off single gave the Giants a 3-2 win. Cishek is now 1-3 with a 10.32 ERA and 2.02 WHIP with 13 strikeouts and eight walks.
To get him right, he is expected to be used in earlier innings.
Redmond said after Monday’s loss he doesn’t know what the team will do. For now, mixing and matching appears the way they’ll go. The problem is, the candidates, A.J. Ramos, Morris and lefty Mike Dunn, have combined for four saves, all by Dunn.
Ramos is the most likely candidate to throw the inning. But the right-hander has never had a save. Ramos does have a 1.06 ERA and 0.82 WHIP this season. Morris, also with no career saves, has struggled with a 4.60 ERA. And Dunn, too, has been up and down this year — 4.26 ERA.
What else can Miami do? A trade is possible. In Spring Training, the Marlins were in the mix to sign Francisco Rodriguez, who ended up going back to the Brewers. K-Rod is 7-for-7 with a 1.38 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. Perhaps Miami could work out a trade for the veteran.
Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies is 6-for-6 in save chances, and has 331 career saves.
At what cost of prospects are the Marlins willing to go? The front office is likely asking themselves that same question.
What else could they do? Be creative with what they have. Tom Koehler, who threw six strong innings on Monday, has experience in the bullpen. His fastball is in the 95 mph range. Henderson Alvarez is close to coming off the disabled list, and Koehler could be sliding into the ‘pen. Could he get a shot to close? Maybe.
If the club is leaning, and I don’t know for sure if they are, on giving Koehler a more immediate shot, lefty prospect Justin Nicolino could get called up from Triple-A New Orleans to join the rotation. That could slide Koehler into the mix in five day. Again, that is all speculation with internal options.
For now, all options are on the table.
— Joe Frisaro