Heavy workload catching up to Mets setup man Fernando Nieve

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After eight consecutive scoreless appearances Fernando Nieve finally gave up a run last night. Two of them, in fact, blowing a two-run lead in the eighth inning by serving up back-to-back homers to Joey Votto and Scott Rolen.
New York went on to win anyway, but Nieve’s incredibly heavy workload figures to catch up with him again if manager Jerry Manuel continues to lean on him. In most seasons the league leaders in relief appearances have 85 or so, basically pitching in every other game. Last night Nieve pitched for the third straight day and he’s worked 17 times in 27 games so far this season, which is a 102-appearance pace.
Mike Marshall, Kent Tekulve, Salomon Torres, and Wayne Granger are the only pitchers in the history of baseball to make 90 or more relief appearances in a season and Marshall is the only reliever to ever work 100 or more games in a season. In other words, if the Mets want to have Nieve available and effective in the second half they’ll want to ease up considerably on the workload.
And he’s not alone. Reds closer Francisco Cordero and Dodgers setup man Ramon Troncoso have already appeared in 16 games and Nieve’s bullpen-mate Pedro Feliciano is one of four relievers with 15 outings. I’m all for riding the hot hand (or arm) in the bullpen, but riding them into the ground in April and May seems short-sighted. It’ll be interesting to see if Manuel eases up on Nieve or if Nieve begins to struggle so much because of the overuse that the manager stops leaning on him for performance reasons.

New Marlins owners are going to dump David Samson, keep the home run sculpture

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The Miami Herald reports that the future Miami Marlins owners, Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, have informed Major League Baseball that they do not intend to retain current team president David Samson. Derek Jeter will replace him as the person in charge of baseball and business operations.

Samson has been a polarizing figure in Miami and has been seen as Jeff Loria’s front-facing presence in many ways. He led the effort for the team to get its new stadium, which led to political scandal and outrage in Miami (not that he didn’t get his stadium). In 2014, he appeared on “Survivor.” He did not survive.

What will survive, however, is the famous home run sculpture in the outfield at Marlins Park. You’ll recall some reports earlier this week that Sherman and Jeter were thinking about removing it. If so, they’ll have a lot of hurdles to jump, because yesterday the Miami-Dade County government reminded them that it was paid for by its Art in Public Places program, it is thus owned by the county and that it cannot be moved without prior approval from the county.

I know a lot of people hate that thing, but it has grown on me over the years. Not for its own aesthetic sake as much for its uniqueness and whimsy, which are two things that are in extraordinarily short supply across the Major League Baseball landscape. Like a lot of new and different bits of art and architecture over the course of history, I suspect its initial loathing will increasingly come to be replaced by respect and even pride. Especially if the Marlins ever make another World Series run, in which case everything associated with the club will be elevated in the eyes of fans.

On this score, Sherman and Jeter will thank Miami-Dade for saving themselves from themselves one day.

Jon Lester to miss one or two starts

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Jon Lester had a terrible outing yesterday, allowing nine runs — seven earned — and leaving the game before he could complete two innings.Lester entered the afternoon with a 3.99 ERA. He exited with a 4.37 ERA. Later the Cubs said that Lester was suffering from left lat tightness.

The Cubs are now saying that Lester will miss 1-2 starts. They are sending him to see Dr. Stephen Gryzlo for a more in-depth exam, and it’s possible Gryzlo will determine the injury is more serious, but at the moment the assessment seems cautiously optimistic.

Mike Montgomery will fill in for Lester for the time being.