The Marlins now have at least a general timeline for relief pitcher Drew Steckenrider, who has already missed a big chunk of the season with a flexor strain. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports (Twitter links), Steckenrider is expected to be able to return to the MLB mound by early August.
Last we heard, the hard-throwing righty was set to be sidelined indefinitely. While it’s hardly heartening to hear that Steckenrider could miss another two months of action, it seems generally positive that there’s a reasonably anticipated end point to his absence. Better still, it seems he’ll be able to avoid surgical intervention for the flexor injury.
That potential schedule will require steady progress from this point forward. Even in a best-case scenario in which the 28-year-old comes in a bit sooner than anticipated, he won’t have time to build a substantial MLB showing before the trade deadline. That effectively eliminates any trade scenarios, not that there was much chance he’d be dealt this summer anyway.
This time last year, the Marlins had Steckenrider inside the showroom with a big sticker price (alongside Kyle Barraclough and Adam Conley). He had emerged in the prior season, mowing down opposing hitters and sporting a 13.2% swinging-strike rate with a fastball-heavy approach. Unfortunately, Steckenrider’s results took a dip in the second half. He was hit hard by lefties, in particular.
The former eighth-round draft pick tried to switch things up in 2019, doubling his slider usage, but wasn’t able to get the fish to bite. His chase rate dropped to 23.5% and his swinging-strike rate dipped to 9.3%. Steckenrider made it through 14 1/3 innings before the injury, allowing ten earned runs despite a minuscule .094 BABIP-against. The reason? He teed up six long balls.
In the long run, it’ll be interesting to see whether Steckenrider can rediscover a formula that allows him to translate his physical skills into MLB outs. At some point, perhaps as soon as the 2019-20, the Marlins may again have a shot at testing his trade value. First, Steckenrider will need to get back to health.