MIAMI -- AJ Ramos' trade to the Mets on Friday night left a gaping hole in the Marlins' bullpen, and now the club looks to a veteran to step up as the closer: Brad Ziegler.After Miami flipped Ramos to New York for prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes, it was
MIAMI -- AJ Ramos' trade to the Mets on Friday night left a gaping hole in the Marlins' bullpen, and now the club looks to a veteran to step up as the closer: Brad Ziegler.
After Miami flipped Ramos to New York for prospects Merandy Gonzalez and Ricardo Cespedes, it was unclear exactly who would handle save situations. Miami's young relief corps features only a couple healthy guys with any career saves to their names: Junichi Tazawa (4) and Dustin McGowan (2).
That was until the club activated Ziegler off the 10-day disabled list on Saturday, and Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the submarine-style reliever will pitch the ninth inning. Ziegler has 85 career saves, including a 30-save season with Arizona in 2015.
"He's a guy who has really true experience of doing that," Mattingly said. "It allows me to control and protect him as far as getting him up and down. I think it's probably best for him."
Ziegler is in the first year of a two-year, $16-million deal. Miami signed the 37-year-old last December after he posted a 2.25 ERA in 69 appearances last season between the D-backs and Red Sox.
A nagging back injury has hurt Ziegler's production this season, however. In 34 appearances, he owns a career-high 6.52 ERA and a 1.828 WHIP.
"I know his season hasn't went well," Mattingly said. "At this point, it is more of a new start."
In two rehab outings, Ziegler tossed two innings and allowed one run (none earned) on two hits. He said closing could help control his warmup and prevent another injury.
"If that's what they feel is best for helping the team win, then I'm all for it," Ziegler said.
Replacing a guy who racked up 92 saves over the last three seasons is no easy task. But with Ramos on the move, David Phelps in Seattle and Kyle Barraclough and Nick Wittgren on the DL, more opportunities have surfaced for Miami's other arms.
McGowan and his 2.75 ERA will be a candidate for the eighth inning. Rookies Drew Steckenrider and Jarlin Garcia could also fall into late-inning roles if they continue to pitch well.
"It allows us to use everyone else where we want, from matching up the lefty and righty situations trying to get the ball back to [Ziegler]," Mattingly said. "And counting on him to be able to do what he's been able to do in the past."
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.