Marlins hurting in the pen

June, 24, 2009

The curse of Relief Efforts strikes again. My colleague Eric Karabell often bemoans the fact that a top closer lands on the DL or loses his job mere hours after the Relief Efforts column is posted on Wednesday afternoons. Now, I have a first-hand experience with this as I filled in for Karabell this week and soon the Marlins' Matt Lindstrom was placed on the DL with a sprained right elbow.

Lindstrom, who also struggled with elbow issues during spring training and the World Baseball Classic, will not be allowed to throw for at least four weeks and likely will be out until well into August.

I already marked down Lindstrom in this week's Relief Efforts after two very shaky outings over the past week. He allowed two runs in the ninth inning and had two more runners on base before escaping with a save against the Yankees on Sunday. On Tuesday, he allowed four straight two-out singles and was charged with three runs as the Orioles wiped out a three-run, ninth-inning deficit. Lindstrom was relieved by Brian Sanches, who subsequently allowed the game-tying hit. (The Marlins, however, did win the game.)

Lindstrom was 14-for-16 in saves (he wasn't officially charged with a blown save for Tuesday's debacle because he left with the Marlins still leading) but sported a 6.52 ERA, so it wasn't like he was a lights-out closer. However, he was still firmly in place as the closer before going on the DL. Now, the Marlins have a scramble on their hands in replacing Lindstrom.

Top setup man Kiko Calero landed on the DL with a shoulder injury over the weekend, so he's out of the mix for now, but could be a contender when he returns. So it appears Leo Nunez, who leads the team with 13 holds but also has a so-so 4.13 ERA, will be next in line for saves, although he left Tuesday's game with a sprained ankle after giving up two runs without getting an out. Nunez said the injury wasn't serious, so he might be the first guy to get a look if he is good to go. He's currently owned in 2.6 percent of leagues.

The next viable option is lefty Dan Meyer, who is arguably the second-best arm in the pen this year behind Calero. Meyer actually has better numbers against righties (.155 BAA against righties, .191 BAA against lefties), so he's proven that he's not just a lefty specialist. Plus, Meyer is actually healthy, so he might be the best bet of them all, at least in the short term. He's practically unowned in leagues (just 0.9 percent), so go grab him if you're desperate.

Other potential options include righty Brian Sanches, who allowed the game-tying hit Tuesday in relief of the ineffective Lindstrom but has given up just one earned run (but two unearned runs) in 15 1/3 innings for a 0.59 ERA (but also has a 14:8 strikeout-to-walk rate and 1.37 WHIP), and lefty Reynel Pinto, who has a 2.22 ERA and just came back from the DL himself.



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