TODAY: The Marlins “are working on a deal” with Kintzler, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets.
JANUARY 24: The Marlins are a reported finalist for righty Pedro Strop, but they’re also “very much in pursuit” of right-hander Brandon Kintzler, tweets Craig Mish of FNTSY Sports Radio. The Miami organization is hoping to entrust ninth-inning duties to one of those two veteran late-inning arms.
Both Strop and Kintzler have spent the past couple seasons with the Cubs. But while Strop is out on the market in hopes of enjoying a rebound season in 2020, Kintzler has already enjoyed a strong rebound effort and is hoping to cash in on his 2019 showing.
In 2018, the now-35-year-old Kintzler limped to a 4.60 ERA (4.10 FIP, 4.50 xFIP) through 60 2/3 innings between the Nationals and Cubs. He’d been sharp in D.C. but immediately scuffled in Chicago, posting a 7.00 ERA in 18 innings. It wasn’t at all the showing for which the Cubs had hoped and Kintzler unsurprisingly exercised a $5MM player option.
That 2018 hiccup now looks like more of an outlier, though, as Kintlzer recorded a career-best 2.68 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.79 HR/9 and a 54.7 percent ground-ball rate. As usual, Kintzler’s low-spin sinker — where, unlike with four-seam heaters, less spin is considered a positive — generated plenty of grounders. He also more than doubled the amount he used his changeup and enjoyed an uptick on his swinging-strike rate against that particular offering.
Kintzler now has an ERA of 3.15 or better in three of the past four seasons. Going back seven years to his first full season in the bigs, he’s posted an ERA of 3.24 or better on five occasions, with the lone exceptions coming in 2018 and in 2015, when a knee injury wiped out most of his season (seven MLB innings, 19 in the minors). All told, he has a career 3.37 earned run average in 424 1/3 innings. And while his lifetime 6.3 K/9 mark isn’t the gaudy total one expects to see from a closer, Kintzler is no stranger to late-inning pressures. He’s tallied 49 saves in his big league tenure, thriving thanks to a quality 2.3 BB/9 mark and his robust 56.1 percent grounder rate.