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Guerrero looks for consistency in clutch

Marlins top execs scouting top prospects at SEC Tournament
@JoeFrisaro
May 23, 2019

DETROIT -- When Drew Steckenrider went on the injured list with a right flexor strain in early May, it opened an opportunity for Tayron Guerrero to be used more in high-leverage situations. The hard-throwing right-hander continues lighting up the tracking devices with his four-seam fastball that averages 98.6 mph. But

DETROIT -- When Drew Steckenrider went on the injured list with a right flexor strain in early May, it opened an opportunity for Tayron Guerrero to be used more in high-leverage situations.

The hard-throwing right-hander continues lighting up the tracking devices with his four-seam fastball that averages 98.6 mph. But regularly reaching triple-digits in velocity isn’t what the Marlins are looking for from Guerrero.

They want to see consistency throwing strikes.

“That’s the thing with Tayron,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said before Thursday's dramatic 5-2 win over the Tigers. “We need to see this guy all the time. Not that it’s always going to be great, but we need to have that same energy when he pitches all the time.”

Box score

Steckenrider experienced right arm discomfort after a one-inning outing on May 6 when the club was facing the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Two days later, he went on the 60-day injured list, and after getting a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, it was confirmed he is dealing with a flexor strain. Rest was recommended.

During that series at Wrigley Field, the Marlins talked to Guerrero about what he needs to do to be counted on as a late-inning relief option, and potentially a closer.

“We talked to him at Wrigley,” Mattingly said. “If he has aspirations of being the guy who is going to be there at the end of the game, then we have to see the same guy all the time. We have to know what we’re getting. That’s why you have those guys back there, because you feel pretty confident, if it goes good or goes bad, that you’re going to get the same guy.”

Guerrero threw a scoreless eighth inning in Wednesday’s 6-3 win at the Tigers. There was nothing fancy, nine four-seam fastballs. He gave up two singles, but had a strikeout and induced a double-play grounder. Of his nine pitches, eight were strikes. His fastball averaged 99.8 mph, and it maxed at 101.2 mph.

“He’s intriguing because he’s basically throwing strikes,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, we see that kind of [power] stuff, and he’s making some breakthroughs. That’s the key thing, every time out, you’re starting to see the same guy.”

Sergio Romo is handling the closer role, but the veteran is on a one-year contract, and it’s no secret the club is open to trading the veteran right-hander. If Romo is moved, the Marlins will have several candidates as closer options. Along with Guerrero, Nick Anderson and left-hander Adam Conley could all get chances to lock down games.

The Marlins also have two hard-throwing right-handers currently on the injured list, who could be late-inning options in the next couple of months. Riley Ferrell (right biceps tendinitis) and Julian Fernandez (recovering from Tommy John surgery) are both expected to be options either before or shortly after the All-Star Break.

“I think we have a number of guys who are throwing the ball good that you feel good when they’re in the game,” Mattingly said.

Worth noting

The Marlins sent their top executives to the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday night to evaluate, among other players, Vanderbilt University slugger, J.J. Bleday. Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter, president of baseball operations Michael Hill, vice president of development and scouting Gary Denbo, and special advisor of baseball operations Jorge Posada were highly visible in a suite in Birmingham, Ala. Miami has the No. 4 overall pick in the June 3 MLB Draft.

Bleday is a left-handed hitting outfielder, who leads NCAA Division I with 21 home runs.

Marlins officials have been heavily evaluating all the projected top players. Upper-level team officials recently looked at University of California, Berkeley, first baseman Andrew Vaughn.

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