Mattingly to spread around save chances

April 11th, 2021

While Marlins right-hander works some things out with his mechanics, manager Don Mattingly is confident that the club's other late-inning options can step in. Righty Yimi García closed out Saturday's 3-0 win over the Mets at Citi Field for his third career save, and Mattingly said that moving forward, he hopes to trust a handful of relievers in close games.

"I think it's really nice to have those options when you have three to four, even five guys at least, that you feel like have pitched in the back end of games," Mattingly said during a Zoom call. "And if you've got two, then every night you're kind of saving them every time, and then you don't know how you get to them, you've got to fight to get to them when you have multiple options. You're not using them every night. If your starter can give you seven [innings], then you're going to use only two of the five options, and it kind of keeps guys available."

Below is a breakdown of the three relievers Mattingly put into that category.

Career saves: Three
Primary role with Marlins: Setup man
2021 stats: 1.80 ERA, 239 ERA+, 5.39 FIP, 0.80 WHIP and two holds in five outings
Of note: Gave up decisive homer on Opening Day

Career saves: None
Primary role with Marlins: High-leverage option
2021 stats: 0.00 ERA, 1.57 FIP, 0.46 WHIP and two holds in five outings
Of note: One of two active Marlins relievers yet to give up a run (Ross Detwiler is the other)

Career saves: Four (all in 2019 with the Orioles)
Primary role with Marlins: Facing left-handed batters
2021 stats: 3.60 ERA, 120 ERA+, 6.79 FIP, 0.60 WHIP and two holds in five outings
Of note: Has allowed two homers, and both have come in a Marlins loss

Mattingly noted it would be nice to have an established closer capable of saving 40 games, but he called it an expensive luxury. While some teams have that ability, the Marlins aren't there, per Mattingly. He hinted that the organization could groom an in-house candidate.

"I think the fact that you've pitched back there, and sometimes that ninth is just a matter of getting the experience to do it," Mattingly said. "A lot of people argue it doesn't matter what inning -- it's high leverage in the seventh or the ninth. But we've seen guys, and I've seen guys, over time that that ninth is different than the eighth for some reason in their minds, in their approach or whatever it is. So it's nice that we can get experience with a number of guys back there that have saved games and at least dealt with that. I think that can help us over the course of the season."

García, who also played for Mattingly with the Dodgers, is the perfect example. The 30-year-old right-hander came to Miami in 2020 and became the setup man after being lower on the depth chart in a deep Los Angeles bullpen.

"To me, it was very normal, just like every other game, another inning," García said via an interpreter after Saturday's save. "You've got to go out there and focus on throwing strikes."

Latest on Alfaro
Catcher was held out of Sunday's series finale, making it the fourth straight game he wasn't in the lineup due to left hamstring tightness. Alfaro was a late scratch on Saturday, and with rain in the forecast on Sunday (which caused a delay in the first inning), Mattingly said the club wanted to protect him. The hope is that Alfaro will be available for Monday's series opener in Atlanta.

"It's when you get a little bit asking that leg for more is what we're worried about," Mattingly said. "We're trying to be cautious. We know we've got a long way to go. We're trying to avoid missing him four to six weeks with the hamstring, and then [that] puts us in more of a bind. So we're being cautious. He feels better every day, but it doesn't feel like he's 100 percent."

Worth noting
The Marlins optioned outfielder Lewis Brinson to the alternate training site in Jacksonville and recalled left-hander Daniel Castano.