Miami Marlins’ mix and match bullpen approach working early


Miami Marlins pitcher Anthony Bender (55) throws the ball during the ninth inning of an MLB game against the Seattle Mariners at loanDepot park in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on Friday, April 29, 2022. The Marlins defeated the Mariners 8-6.

Don Mattingly acknowledged it during spring training … and right before Opening Day … and a few other times across the course of the first month of the season.

The Miami Marlins don’t have a bona fide closer or a set group of relievers who have set responsibilities as high-leverage situations arise at the end of games.

“We are a mix and match bullpen,” Mattingly said again on Friday. “We’re not a bullpen that sits there in the seventh, eighth and ninth and know you’re going to this guy, this guy and this guy.”

So far, the Marlins have used that approach to their advantage and have seen early success.

While Anthony Bender has received the bulk of the save and key ninth-inning opportunities — and has converted five of six save attempts — Miami has had four relievers record at least one save apiece so far this season. Cole Sulser, Tanner Scott and Louis Head — all offseason and spring training acquisitions — are the other three to convert a save so far. Anthony Bass, Steven Okert and Richard Bleier have also pitched in high-leverage spots.

Entering Saturday, Miami ranked tied for fourth in MLB with eight saves.

Having relievers who are able to shift roles is key for Miami, especially considering Dylan Floro — the team’s presumptive closer at the start of spring training — has been on the injured list all season with right rotator cuff tendinitis and Bender was unavailable at the start of Miami’s last road trip while dealing with hip soreness.

“When we’re doing well, the team’s going to be doing well,” Bass said, “and that’s what we’re here for.”

Chisholm, Lopez recognized named Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. and starting pitcher Pablo Lopez to its All-Star team for the month of April.

Chisholm enters Saturday ranked first in the league with three triples, fifth with a .667 slugging mark and tied for eighth with a 1.011 on-base-plus-slugging.

Lopez leads MLB with a 0.39 ERA. That’s the best mark in Marlins history through four starts, besting the club’s previous record of held by Dontrelle Willis (0.71 in 2004). Lopez is also holding opponents to a .160 batting average while recording 23 strikeouts against just four walks over 23 1/3 innings. The Marlins have won all four of their games that Lopez has started.

Noteworthy stat

Jesus Aguilar entered Saturday safely reaching base in 14 consecutive games. He has a .419 on-base percentage in that span and has reached base multiple times in nine of those 14 outings. He also has a team-high 13 walks.

Aguilar reached base three times in the Marlins’ 8-6 win on Friday, with singles in the first and second inning — the latter of which drove in two runs — and drawing a walk in the fourth after a 12-pitch plate appearance.

Jordan McPherson covers the Miami Marlins and high school sports for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and covered the Gators athletic program for five years before joining the Herald staff in December 2017.

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