Leo Nunez is coming off back-to-back blown saves on Thursday and Saturday, and interim manager Edwin Rodriguez says it's because the Marlins closer utilizing his changeup too often.
"We're trying to get him to use his fastball more," Rodriguez told MLB.com. "We've been using the bullpen way too much, and that may be the reason he doesn't want to go with the fastball."
Nunez has been one of the better closers in the game in 2010. He has a 3.23 ERA that should be lower, as evidenced by his 2.07 FIP, whiffing almost 10 batters a game. His 26 saves so far match his career-high set in 2009 in his first season in town. He has, however, indeed shown an increased reliance on his changeup, throwing it 48 percent of the time. His fastball usage has dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his career. While 2009 saw him toss the mid-90s heater just 53.2 percent of the time, it's down to 48.5 percent.
Hard to imagine someone not trusting a mid-90s fastball, but Nunez does despite succeeding with the pitch. If he doesn't make some changes, he might lose his job.
"For now, he's our closer," Rodriguez added. "But if he doesn't make an adjustment, we may have to explore other options -- maybe do a closer by committee."
A closer by committee is an imposing concept to throw out, as it's become a dirty word in baseball. While a closer by committee can be done temporarily, any permanent shifting to that concept is met with resistance from the start as the 2003 Red Sox quickly found out.
If Rodriguez does indeed go to different pitchers to nail games down, pitchers such as Brian Sanches, Will Ohman and Clay Hensley figure to pick up several saves.
With the Marlins trying to stay in the postseason hunt and failing at nine and a half back of Atlanta in the NL East, the team is trying to do everything it can to compete -- especially since ex-manager Fredi Gonzalez was fired for not competing with a 34-36 record. The Fish are currently 54-56.
-- Evan Brunell
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