The Marlins removed Heath Bell from the closer role last week after he blew his fourth save in seven chances, but Ozzie Guillen already appears ready to give him another shot.
According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, after Guillen was asked this afternoon whether the next save chance would go to Steve Cishek, he strongly hinted that he will opt for Bell.
“No. Let’s put Bell back there to see what happens… That’s his job. And I like the way he has thrown the ball.”
Strong enough for you? Bell is apparently back in the good graces after tossing a scoreless 10th inning Wednesday against the Astros in his first appearance since being pulled from the closer role. While Guillen has left the door open for other options, he said that Bell is “our closer” and “deserves another shot.”
Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Marlins during the offseason, has an ugly 10.24 ERA and 7/10 K/BB ratio over 9 2/3 innings this season. His track record suggests there’s nowhere to go but up, but the 34-year-old right-hander had a career low strikeout rate (7.32 K/9) and swinging strike rate (8.3 percent) last year.
After watching Heath Bell blow his fourth save in seven chances Friday against the Padres, the Marlins are finally ready to make a change. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald brings the breaking news:
Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb and Steve Cishek seem likely to split save opportunities going forward.
Bell signed a three-year, $27 million free agent contract with the Fish this offseason after posting a dominant 2.53 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 134 saves in five years for the Padres. Through his first 8 2/3 innings with Miami, the 34-year-old right-hander has registered an 11.42 ERA, 6.2 K/9 and only three converted saves.
Heath Bell blew another save last night, coughing up his fourth lead in seven tries, and afterward manager Ozzie Guillen finally seemed ready to make a change at closer after previously saying he’d stick with Bell through the struggles:
We’ll check tomorrow about what’s going to be the situation with the closer. We’ve got to do something about it. We can’t be waiting anymore. Tomorrow we might talk to him about the situation. If we’re going to be in the pennant race, he’s got to be better. Tomorrow we’ll have a better idea what to do with him.
If there’s any good news to be had within Bell’s performance it’s that he isn’t getting clobbered, allowing just one homer in 53 plate appearances. Unfortunately everything else is bad news, as he’s allowed a .385 batting average while walking 10 batters in 8.2 innings and has managed just six strikeouts. Oh, and his ERA is 11.42.
Bell’s strikeout rate dropping from 11.1 per nine innings to 7.3 per nine innings last season certainly hinted at a decline in raw stuff, particularly at age 34, but obviously a total collapse was unexpected following a season in which he saved 43 games with a 2.44 ERA.
Edward Mujica gives Guillen a good fallback option at closer, as he’s logged 252 innings with a 3.54 ERA and fantastic 217/43 K/BB ratio since 2009, but with Bell one month into a three-year, $27 million contract a long-term switch will be tough.