The Marlins made a flurry of roster moves prior to today’s game, including the placement of right-hander Anthony Bender on the 15-day injured list due to a right elbow strain. Righty Tommy Nance was also optioned to Triple-A, right-hander A.J. Ladwig was designated for assignment, and right-hander Cole Sulser was moved to the 60-day IL. For new faces on Miami’s roster, the club selected the contracts of left-hander Andrew Nardi and right-hander Parker Bugg from Triple-A.
Something was clearly amiss with Bender yesterday, as he lasted only five pitches into a relief outing before having to leave the game. The severity of the elbow strain isn’t yet known, but given the timing on the baseball calendar, it is possible Bender’s season might be over even if he hasn’t suffered any notable structural damage to his elbow.
The righty already missed close to 10 weeks of the season due to a back problem, and was only just activated off the 60-day IL in early August. After a strong 2021 rookie season, Bender has still pitched well (3.26 ERA over 19 1/3 IP) this year, though his strikeouts are down and his health problems have cost him a lot of momentum. Tanner Scott has now emerged as the Marlins’ closer, but heading into the season, there was some thought that Bender could possibly assume the role, and he has the majority of save chances prior to his first injury.
Sulser was another closer candidate, except a right lat strain sent him to the IL in mid-June. The shift to the 60-man injured list is largely procedural, as the Marlins can now create 40-man roster space, and Sulser’s original timeline is still set from his initial June 13 placement date. Sulser has been rehabbing at Triple-A and might not be far away from a return.
Bugg and Nardi join the 40-man and 26-man rosters, and are now in line to make their Major League debuts. Bugg was a 27th-round pick for the Marlins in the 2016 draft, while Nardi was a 16th-round selection in 2019.
The 27-year-old Bugg has worked mostly as a reliever during his pro career, with a few opener-style starts. Now in his third season at Triple-A, Bugg is delivering good results with a 2.39 ERA in 37 2/3 innings, though his walk rate has been worryingly high. Over 131 2/3 innings at Triple-A, Bugg has a 13.64% walk rate.
Nardi is just a few days short of his 24th birthday, so this promotion counts as a very memorable early present. Control was also a problem for Nardi earlier in his career, but over the last two seasons has managed to both limit the walks and increase his strikeout totals. As a result, Nardi has now gone from A-ball in May 2021 all the way to the majors in just 15 months. MLB Pipeline ranks Nardi 30th on their list of Marlins prospects, giving 55 grades to his slider and his fastball (which usually sits in the 92-94mph range).
Since the Marlins are coming off a doubleheader with the Braves yesterday, the promotions of Bugg and Nardi give Miami a couple of fresh arms in the relief corps. This meant a quick departure for Ladwig, who was called up yesterday as the 27th man for the doubleheader. Ladwig’s brief stay did result in his first MLB appearance, as he tossed 3 1/3 innings against the World Series champs, allowing four runs. A longtime member of the Tigers organization, Ladwig signed with the Marlins in May after being released by Detroit.