Brad Ziegler started the 2016 season in Arizona as the primary closer, posting a 2.82 ERA in 38.1 innings while registering 18 saves in 20 opportunities. Arizona traded Ziegler midseason to the Red Sox, with whom he played an integral role as the setup man. In 29.2 innings with Boston, Ziegler posted an impressive 1.52 ERA across 33 games, adding four saves in the process. The 37-year-old has proven his value and versatility in the bullpen, owning a 2.25 ERA across 68 innings last season. His strikeout rate has never been particularly good for a back-end reliever, but Ziegler's extreme groundball rate (66.3 percent for his career) has made up for what he lacks in terms of swing-and-miss stuff. After signing with the Marlins in free agency, Ziegler is likely ticketed for setup duty in front of A.J. Ramos.
Ziegler has yet to make a Grapefruit League appearance this spring as the Marlins attempt to keep NL East hitters from getting a good look at his submarine delivery, The Miami Herald reports. "It's only deceptive to someone that doesn't see it all the time," Ziegler said Thursday. "I'm coming to a new division, and I'm going to be facing new teams more than I ever have in the past, and I'm trying to keep that deception there as long as possible." The veteran reliever is still getting his work in against minor league hitters on the back diamonds, and Ziegler should eventually find his way into a Grapefruit League game or two, although not against a divisional foe. He's in line to be one of A.J. Ramos' set-up men in 2017, but Ziegler -- who racked up 52 saves over the last two seasons for the Diamondbacks and Red Sox -- could find his way into some ninth inning duty if Ramos falters.
Ziegler agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with the Marlins on Friday, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Marlins, after missing out on one of the elite closers on the free agent market, have now shelled out a combined $28 million over the past two days to bring in Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa. Ziegler split the 2016 season between Arizona and Boston, posting a 2.25 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 68 innings. The sidearmer boosted his K/9 rate back above 7.5 while maintaining a groundball rate over 63 percent. He's plenty capable of stepping into the closer role should A.J. Ramos falter.
Ziegler closed out Friday night's 2-1 win, working his way around a leadoff double and an intentional walk to record his fourth save in an Boston uniform. Ziegler got the call in the ninth inning on a night when neither Craig Kimbrel nor Koji Uehara were available. He needed 21 pitches to get the job done, but held on to help Boston win its ninth straight.
Ziegler figures to get the ball if a save situation arises Friday, as Craig Kimbrel is unavailable, the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson reports. Kimbrel has pitched in three straight games, making him unavailable Friday. According to MacPherson, it would be Ziegler who would get the ball in a save situation over Koji Uehara. This is a one night only chance to pick up a cheap save off the waiver wire, as Kimbrel will be available Saturday.
Ziegler made his first appearance in 11 days, allowing a hit and striking out one in two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday night's win over San Diego. Ziegler, who had been out of action due to the flu, was well enough to pitch the last couple of days and eventually made it into a game. The right-hander will continue to be used in a setup role, but primarily against right-handed hitters.