In previewing what awaits the Marlins in the second half Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes that there’s “a good chance” closer Leo Nunez “is dealt before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.”
Rodriguez notes that Nunez has one more season of arbitration eligibility, but “it’s doubtful the Marlins will absorb his expected salary hike” from this year’s $3.65 million salary.
What he doesn’t write is that in addition to not wanting to pay Nunez upward of $5 million in 2012 the Marlins would also be smart to cash in a thoroughly mediocre closer for good value if they can.
In three seasons as Florida’s closer Nunez has saved 81 games in 99 chances with a 3.71 ERA and 169/63 K/BB ratio in 175 innings. He’s basically a solid setup man who’s been thrust into the closer role and has converted saves at an 82 percent rate, which is at the low end of acceptable for a closer.
If they can get a solid prospect for him because some other team focuses on his save totals they should jump at the opportunity and spend the second half figuring out which other reliever is capable of stepping into ninth-inning duties with similarly mediocre results. Closers are made, not born, and Nunez is a prime example.
The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.
In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.
Home plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both dugouts. Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t happy about his side having received a warning for no reason, and was ejected by first base umpire Mark Wegner. Hernández would hit Adeiny Hechavarría with a pitch in the fourth inning — seemingly unintentionally — and was not ejected. Other than that, there were no more incidents and cooler heads prevailed.
Acuña finished 1-for-4 in the Braves’ 5-1 win. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs and knocked in four runs.