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After Romo, Richards among closer options

Anderson, Garcia also are candidates for ninth-inning role
@JoeFrisaro
July 28, 2019

MIAMI -- Sergio Romo brought a big personality to the Marlins’ bullpen and clubhouse, and showed tremendous production in the closing role, notching 17 saves in 19 chances. But now that the energetic 36-year-old right-hander has been dealt to the Twins, the Marlins are left with an unclear closer situation.

MIAMI -- Sergio Romo brought a big personality to the Marlins’ bullpen and clubhouse, and showed tremendous production in the closing role, notching 17 saves in 19 chances.

But now that the energetic 36-year-old right-hander has been dealt to the Twins, the Marlins are left with an unclear closer situation. There’s also plenty of roster uncertainty with Wednesday’s Trade Deadline looming.

Miami remains open to trades, and veterans like Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson -- who have expiring contracts after the season -- are candidates to be dealt. So are relievers like Nick Anderson, Jarlin García and, even though he’s struggled, Adam Conley who have controllable service time.

A lot will be sorted out by the middle of the week.

Right-hander Jeff Brigham was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to fill Romo’s roster spot on Sunday before Miami’s 5-1 win over Arizona.

For now, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the plan is to mix and match in the closer role, and the club hasn’t ruled out experimenting with Trevor Richards in the ninth.

Richards was just replaced in the rotation by Elieser Hernandez, and he is an option to work multiple innings or pitch with the game on the line.

“Trevor is a guy we’ve thought could be a reliever,” Mattingly said. “We don’t necessarily want to throw him right into the ninth, but if we have to, we would. Or the eighth or the seventh.”

Entering Spring Training, the Marlins planned on closing by committee. At the time, they had a healthy Drew Steckenrider (out with right elbow inflammation), Anderson and Conley as options.

“Serg kind of morphed into that guy, and allowed us to use, at the time, Steck or Andy [in setup],” Mattingly said.

Anderson could also be a closing candidate, as could lefty Garcia. But the club may use Anderson in the seventh or eighth innings, depending on the matchups.

On Sunday, the Marlins went with Richards in the seventh, Anderson in the eighth and Garcia in the ninth, in a non-save situation. All three delivered scoreless innings, though Anderson got himself into -- and out of -- a bases-loaded jam.

“I think Andy has probably been the guy with the most dominant stuff out of the ‘pen,” Mattingly said. “I’d still like to be able to use Andy in leverage with the best part of [opponents’] order and lineup. That may be the ninth, that may be the eighth. So, we’ll use him accordingly, and just try to figure out the next part of that.”

Could Richards handle the role? His fastball is not overpowering, but he has a plus changeup. Romo relies on a slider.

Mattingly points out that Trevor Hoffman became a Hall of Famer with his changeup as his best pitch.

“Trevor is going to be an interesting guy to see what it’s going to look like out of the ‘pen, consistently,” Mattingly said. “There’s been different guys over the years that get it done differently. Trevor Hoffman ends up in the Hall of Fame, basically with a fastball and a changeup.

“There’s different spots for guys, with that pitch combination, especially if that pitch is a plus, plus pitch. That’s what the changeup is for Trevor.”

Impactful trade

The Marlins acquired first baseman Lewin Diaz from the Twins for Romo, right-handed pitching prospect Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later.

Diaz, who will be assigned to Double-A Jacksonville, is Miami’s No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. His status is expected to be changed in a few days after the Trade Deadline.

Diaz provides left-handed power potential. According to the Marlins’ advanced metrics, 45 percent of the balls the 22-year-old puts in play have exit speeds of 95 mph or higher. No other player in Double-A has a rate that high with a strikeout rate below 17 percent.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.