The Marlins have placed right Anthony Bender on the 15-day injured list due to back stiffness, with the placement retroactive to May 23. In the corresponding move, utilityman Willians Astudillo has joined the active roster after his contract was selected from Triple-A.
Bender has recorded six of Miami’s nine total saves this year, getting the bulk of ninth-inning work while Dylan Floro was on the injured list. While Floro has struggled since returning to action, Bender also hasn’t done much to fully cement his hold on the closer’s job. Over 14 innings, Bender has a 4.50 ERA and strikeout/walk rates that are slightly below league average, and he has given up three home runs. However, Bender has has also been hurt by a .359 BABIP, which is particularly damaging for a pitcher who relies so much on grounders.
The Marlins could turn to any or all of Cole Sulser, Tanner Scott, Louis Head, or Anthony Bass for saves while Bender is out. Manager Don Mattingly said during Spring Training that the team was more likely to adopt a committee approach unless a pitcher emerged as the clear best choice for save situations, so it could be that the Marlins simply keep rolling without a true closer.
Astudillo signed a minor league contract with Miami soon after the lockout ended, and he has hit .286/.326/.464 with four home runs for Triple-A Jacksonville over 89 plate appearances. A veteran of four MLB seasons with the Twins, Astudillo was a fan favorite in Minnesota, and his ability to play almost anywhere on the field got him into 167 games at every position except shortstop.
While “La Tortuga” only occasionally hit well, this extreme versatility gives Miami an interesting new depth piece on what is now a 14-man position player mix. One would imagine another move could be forthcoming to add another arm to the bullpen. Jazz Chisholm Jr. has missed the last couple of games with hamstring tightness, but in a positive step, Chisholm was participating in close to full baseball activity today.