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Late-inning spots 'up for grabs' in Marlins' bullpen

NEW YORK -- So often in the young season, Marlins games are being decided by one misplaced pitch or one big hit allowed.

At a time Miami starters are settling into a groove, the relievers have had their struggles. They've been prone to allowing a game-changing hit, especially the long ball.

From the seventh inning on, the Marlins' team ERA is 4.45, which ranks 12th in the 15-team National League. They've allowed nine home runs, fourth most. Not all of those numbers are on the relievers. For instance, starter Nathan Eovaldi surrendered a three-run homer in the seventh inning in a loss to the Padres on April 6.

The relievers have had their struggles, however, with inherited runners. In all, nine of them have scored. Only the Cubs and D-backs (14 each) have allowed more inherited runners to score in the NL.

Mike Dunn has had his struggles, posting an 8.31 ERA in 8 2/3 innings, and Carlos Marmol has thrown nine innings with a 4.00 ERA, but the four runs he's allowed came on Jayson Werth's grand slam at Washington on April 9. A.J. Ramos has been the most effective of the late-inning setup relievers, allowing one run in 9 1/3 innings.

"We just need to keep plugging guys in there, and we need somebody to step up and get some big outs," manager Mike Redmond said. "That's really what it comes down to. We've been in a lot of close games, but unfortunately we've given up some big hits late in those games to lose."

In situations considered late and close, the Marlins have given up six home runs. According to STATS Pass, late and close is defined as innings seventh or later, and the batting team being ahead by one run, tied or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck. In such situations, only the Phillies and Pirates -- each with seven -- are ahead of Miami.

"It really comes down to trying to find those guys that are going to be able to pitch in those late innings," Redmond said. "We're going to really try everybody to see what's going to work, and who is going to take those late innings. It's really up for grabs."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Read More: Miami Marlins