Marlins righty Drew Steckenrider will be sidelined for a yet-to-be determined period of time after Dr. James Andrews confirmed the team’s initial diagnosis of a right flexor strain, the team told reporters Wednesday (Twitter link via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel). For the time being, rest has been recommended rather than surgery. The team moved Steckenrider to the 60-day injured list recently, so he’ll be out until at least early July.
Entering the season, Steckenrider looked primed to hold down a prominent late-inning role — if not as the team’s closer then as one of its top setup options. The 28-year-old carried a 3.35 ERA with 11.6 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 1.0 BB/9 through 99 1/3 career innings into the 2019 season. However, Steckenrider slumped late in the 2018 season and had a tough Spring Training, and it seems those troubles carried into the 2019 campaign. Through 14 1/3 innings this season, he’s toting a 6.28 ERA and has surrendered a jarring six home runs.
A healthy Steckenrider would make for an interesting trade piece, given the strong showing he displayed in 2017 and up through the All-Star break in 2018. But with no timetable for his return to the mound at present, it seems unlikely that he’ll be moved. He’s under club control all the way through the 2023 campaign and won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2020 season, so he could certainly present a potential trade asset somewhere down the line as the Marlins continue plodding through what seems likely to be a lengthy rebuilding endeavor under new ownership.
With Steckenrider on the shelf indefinitely, Miami will continue to lean heavily on a collection of largely unproven bullpen pieces. Tyler Kinley and Tayron Guerrero have each displayed impressive strikeout numbers but each averaged seven walks per nine innings pitched. Offseason trade acquisition Nick Anderson has racked up a ridiculous 31 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings but has also been too prone to home runs. Righty Austin Brice has turned in a solid 2.20 ERA in 16 1/3 innings but ha control issues of his own, while veteran Sergio Romo hasn’t yet been the stabilizing force Miami hoped to acquire when signing him over the winter.