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.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.