The St. Louis Cardinals added RHP Steve Cishek to their bullpen this afternoon, announcing the acquisition of the former closer in a trade with the Miami Marlins. In return, the Cardinals will send Double-A reliever Kyle Barraclough to Miami. So let’s dig right in.
Cishek, 29, entered the 2015 season as one of baseball’s up and coming closers. In his previous four seasons, Cishek had a 2.70 ERA to go with a 1.19 WHIP over 249 relief appearances. He had accumulated 91 saves.
Despite all of that, the season started rough. He made 8 appearances in April and allowed 8 earned runs over 7.1 innings. The end numbers were ugly, but beyond a couple rough showings, he actually had more good than bad.
That changed in May as he began getting hit more. He allowed 7 runs in 12 innings over 11 appearances in May while opponents hit .365 against him.
He was demoted to the minors on June 2nd. He returned two weeks later and has pitched much better since. His opponents batting average is just .239 with a .294 on base percentage. His 3.0 BB/9 is much more in line with his previous two seasons as the Marlins’ closer. He has allowed just a single run over 12.2 innings.
Last summer the Marlins chose to hold onto Cishek while he had a much higher trade value because they believed they could contend. Instead, they find themselves 4th and fading fast.
The reason he was let go so cheaply, is that he is a non-tender candidate at the end of the season. He is making $6.65 million this year and, as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, cannot take a pay cut in arbitration. That’s a lot of money for a relief pitcher with question marks.
To make room for him on the roster, reliever Matt Belisle has been moved to the 60 day DL. With Belisle due out for longer than initially expected, it makes sense for the Cardinals to search out for relief help.
The move to shift Belisle to the 60 day DL was a tough decision, per Mozeliak. He said that Belisle is expected to be ready a little ahead of the 60 day window, but they didn’t want to risk exposing any of their current 40 man roster players to waivers. Mozeliak is winning the gold medal in roster gymnastics this season with all the injuries.
Cishek will wear the #28, which was last worn by Octavio Dotel in 2011.