LOS ANGELES -- Don't expect to see Steve Cishek in another ninth-inning save situation the next time the situation arises. Without saying so directly, manager Mike Redmond gave every indication he's ready to pull the trigger and try something new after Cishek blew his second save in as many days in the Marlins' 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Monday.
“Anytime you have leads late and you can’t hold onto them, it crushes you,” Redmond said. “You’ve got to win these games. (Cishek) has done a tremendous job for us. But at the end of the day, it’s about winning games. We can’t keep blowing late leads."
The Marlins have spoken to agent Scott Boras about free agent Rafael Soriano. But sources told me "nothing is close" on that front. And the Marlins could look around to make a trade. But it's only the middle of May and even bad teams don't normally throw in the towel this early.
While Redmond said he could "mix and match" relievers in the ninth inning, the most likely in-house scenario is A.J. Ramos, who has been the team's best reliever (1.06 ERA) by far so far this season. While Ramos hasn't been used in that capacity in the majors, he came up through their minor-league system as a closer and recorded 83 saves.
But the Marlins don't want another repeat of 2012 when they mistakenly waited until the All-Star break before finally giving up on Heath Bell. (Ironically, it was Cishek who inherited the role in the wake of the Bell fiasco).
While Cishek's issues this season have been pronounced (four blown saves in seven save opportunities), including Monday night's catastrophe when he gave up a 3-run, game-ending homer in the ninth to the Dodgers' Scott Van Slyke, there is still reason to think the Marlins can get him back on track by using him earlier out of the bullpen. Cishek had the third-best save percentage in the majors the previous two seasons.
But they can't wait until July -- like they did with Bell -- to make that decision. And, unlike Bell, whose personality and on-field performance eventually cost him the respect of his teammates, Cishek is well-liked inside the clubhouse and is the team's union representative.
“This is about as low as I can get,” Cishek said after Monday's episode. “This is a huge trial in my life right now. I’ve always found a way to get out of it. Just waiting for that time to come.”
How has Cishek gone from a closer with a greater than 90 percent success rate in save chances to one who has managed to convert only three of seven save opportunities this season?
“I honestly can’t explain it, I really can’t,” he said. “All I needed to do was get three outs, and I just continued to let the team down."