On June 4, 2013 against the Phillies, Marlins closer Steve Cishek surrendered a game-tying solo home run to John Mayberry, Jr. in the bottom of the tenth inning. It was his second — and last — blown save of the season. Between his next appearance and the end of the regular season, Cishek converted all 29 save opportunities while posting a 1.18 ERA over 45 2/3 innings.
The streak continued into 2014. Entering Friday’s game against the Mets, Cishek had converted all four of his save chances and had a perfect 0.00 ERA over seven innings. With the Marlins leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the ninth on Friday, Cishek entered the game looking to make it 34 straight saves. The Mets weren’t fazed.
Lucas Duda led off with a single and then moved up to second base on Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice bunt. Cishek got the second out of the inning when Bobby Abreu lined out to left, but the Mets were just getting started. Omar Quintanilla singled to left to score Duda to tie the game at 3-3, marking Cishek’s first blown save of the season and snapping the 33-save streak. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, pinch-hitting for Eric Young, Jr., doubled to left-center, moving Quintanilla to third base. Finally, Curtis Granderson singled to right field, pushing across the winning run as the Mets walked off 4-3 winners.
Perhaps because he has played for the Marlins, Cishek has gone under the radar as a quality reliever for a while. Since becoming a regular part of his team’s bullpen in 2011, Cishek has a 2.53 ERA with 206 strikeouts and 53 unintentional walks over 195 2/3 innings. He and the Marlins avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.8 million deal over the off-season, but he has three more years of arbitration eligibility left, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Marlins trade him at some point.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.