Marlins closer Steve Cishek isn’t quite sure why the velocity on his sinker and slider are down for the second April in a row, but he’s banking on his go-to pitches picking up steam as the season goes on once again.
Cishek, who blew the 12th save of his career when Daniel Murphy crushed a three-run homer off him in the ninth Monday, is averaging career-lows for a month with his sinker (89.4 miles per hour) and slider (79.0). His career averages are 82.2 for the slider and 92.0 with the sinker.
“Typically I come into spring training with my arm slot a little bit higher and for some reason the past couple years it’s been lower,” Cishek said. “And when your arm slot is slower, you can’t really generate as much [velocity]. That’s kind of what I’m thinking.
“Last year I didn’t panic. I just kept going about my business and slowly but surely it came back. For the most part I’m not really too concerned with it. I just have to use what I’ve got right now just to get the outs.”
Lower velocity wasn’t the reason Cishek said Murphy blasted his sinker. Rather, it was location.
“Right now I’m kind of cutting the ball off a touch,” he said. “I need to just focus on staying through the zone and my ball will sink and dive. That’s my M.O. I just have to get back to doing that.”
The Mets have owned Cishek over the years. Of his 12 blown saves, three have come against the Mets. In his career, Cishek is 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA against the Mets. The 20 earned runs he has allowed against them are eight more than the next closest team (Braves).
“His workload, similar to last year, has been tough,” said manager Mike Redmond, who like last year has only been able to get Cishek into seven of the team’s first 21 games.
“Although we’ve played a lot of close games, it’s tough to use him in games when you know you might need him at the end. I just think he needs to keep pitching.”
Monday’s game between the Marlins and Mets was the fastest nine-inning game in the majors since the Padres and Astros also finished in 1:58 on June27, 2012, according to STATS.
“I remember playing a few quick ones when I was in Minnesota, but I don’t remember any that quick,” Redmond said. “It had a little bit of a feeling like the last day of spring training or the last day of the season.”
▪ With the ongoing unrest in Baltimore, the White Sox and Orioles will play a Wednesday afternoon game without fans inside Camden Yards.
The idea of playing in front of an empty stadium brought back some memories for Redmond. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan forced the Marlins and Expos to play a pair of games at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago before crowds of 4,003 and 5,457.
“There were some fans there, but it was weird,” Redmond said before making a joke. “Of course back in the day, Marlins-Expos on a Wednesday afternoon, that wasn’t a huge draw either. It was pretty light. That would be the only thing equivalent.”
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Mat Latos (0-3, 7.31 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Bartolo Colon (4-0, 2.77), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Thursday: Off.