Hey everyone, this is Didier Morais filling in for Manny. Here are a few tidbits going into tonight's Marlins-Phillies game.
Clay Hensley knows he doesn’t look that part of Major League closer. Aside from his atypical 5-foot-11 height, the Marlins pitcher doesn’t deliver flamethrowing pitches, opting instead to terrorize batters with breaking ball.
But the unconventional formula is working for Hensley. Since inheriting the closing job from Leo Nunez on Sept. 4, the righty has subdued opposing hitters, going 3-for-3 in save opportunities.
And that’s why Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez relishes the opportunity to go against the grain.
“We have the mentality now that [a closer] has to have 95 plus to be a closer, but I’ve never bought into that,” Rodriguez said. “We have seen so many guys close in games and they don’t 90 plus, but they know how to pitch. They locate it and throw strikes and maybe Hensley is one of them. The old fashioned way.”
And Hensley doesn’t mind getting by in that manner. Considering he came into spring training as an aspiring starter, he’s frequently proved his ability to make adjustments throughout the season.
But those duties may carry on even longer. Hensley, who is signed to a one-year contract, said he could envision himself as a long-term closer and plans to seek advice from Milwaukee closer Trevor Hoffman during next week’s series.
“I'm enjoying this role,” Hensley said. “I think it's something I'm able to do and be really good at instead of starting. That's something I'm going to look hard at over the off season, talk with Florida and see where they're at and put my input into it.”
--- After striking out four times in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss against the Phillies, outfielder Mike Stanton received the day off Wednesday and was replaced by Scott Cousins in the lineup.
But Rodriguez insists the decision to sit the 20-year-old rookie was to air on the side of caution. He simply didn’t want to disrupt his blossoming talent’s development – or confidence – with a tough outing against Roy Halladay after the four-strikeout performance.
“Like we’ve been saying all along we have to be very careful with Stanton,” Rodriguez said. “His mechanics sometimes get off and we have to be very careful when that happens, especially when you’re facing a pitcher like Halladay – that he will take advantage of anything.”
In six at-bats against the Phillies’ righty this season, Stanton has struggled, going 1-for-6 with a .167 batting average.
--- Although Cameron Maybin wasn’t in Wednesday’s lineup, the Marlins outfielder returned back to team after missing two games with a stomach virus and was available for pinch-hitting duties.
Prior to the game, he took swings in the batting cage, hoping to sweat the remnants of his virus. But he maintained the worst was behind him.
“I’m feeling a little bit better and getting my energy back and my strength back,” Maybin said. “It’s coming back. The off day will be good for me tomorrow and I should be back to normal.”