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.
The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.
Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?
As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.
Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.
Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.
A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.
I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.
That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.