• Steve Cishek polished off save number nine on Saturday, but not before Marlins fans had to reach for the antacid. Cishek gave up three singles to turn a three-run game into one where Jordan Pacheco came to the plate as the winning run. Luckily (for Miami) Pacheco grounded out, preserving a 6-5 win. Cishek had previously been untouchable since being installed as the new Marlins closer (0.77 ERA, 13/3 K/BB in 11.2 innings since mid-July), so owners shouldn’t panic yet. Yes, Cishek does have unfavorable platoon splits and, yes, the Marlins would surely like their $27 million man (Heath Bell) to do what he’s being paid $9 million a year to do (close games) but — for the time being — the closer job is not up for debate in Miami.
• Carlos Marmol also notched a save on Saturday. Since being reissued the ninth inning role in mid-June, Marmol has quietly been very effective, putting up a 2.61 ERA (2.90 FIP, 3.76 xFIP) with a 29/13 K/BB in 20.2 innings. Marmol’s fastball velocity charts look almost like some sort of weird, low frequency wave pattern, but the big take-home is that he’s throwing harder than he has over his last two-plus years. His K% has climbed and his BB% has fallen so there is reason to suspect that whatever ailed Marmol early in the season is in the rear-view mirror. He’s unlikely to ever return to being an elite option like he was a couple years ago (especially with the Cubbies struggling to win games) but he’s probably no longer a liability to your team (expect maybe the WHIP department) and he’s capable of helping in saves and strikeouts.
• Frank Francisco also pitched a clean ninth this weekend, finishing off Jonathan Niese’s gem against the Nationals. Francisco has run into trouble lately (discussed in multiple iterations of the Bullpen Report) but Terry Collins has stood behind his closer all season. Francisco’s peripherals are pedestrian (4.30 xFIP) but his 0.354 BABIP is really sending that ERA (6.06) into “Ugly Town.” It’s tough to consider him a shutdown guy (and you can make an easy argument that Bobby Parnell and his 3.09 xFIP would be a better closer) but he’s probably good enough that he can skate by and hold onto his job for the time being. He’s not out of red-light territory yet because another meltdown or two and you might see Collins make a change, but the more often the “no runs” version of Francisco shows up, the more job security he’s going to get.
For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here is a matchup you may be able to exploit.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Matt Thornton (CHW) vs. NYY
I’m pretty much reprinting Friday’s rationale. “He might not be the closer, but Thornton might have the best ratios of anyone in the White Sox pen (3.29 xFIP, 3.5 K/BB).” While Thornton didn’t pitch Saturday against the lefty-heavy Royals, he didn’t pitch Sunday either and gets the lefty-heavy Yankees on Monday. Robin Ventura has to get him some work sometime, right?
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]