Steve Cishek is out as closer for the Marlins.
For how long depends on the time it takes him to get back on track and become the pitcher who ranked as one of the best in the majors the previous two seasons at locking down wins.
“They’re going to have someone else step in and use me in the earlier innings, just to get myself back on track,” said Cishek, who failed to protect leads in losses to the Giants on Sunday and Dodgers on Monday.
Cishek gave up a game-ending home run to Scott Van Slyke in Monday’s demoralizing 5-3 loss to the Dodgers. It was his fourth blown save of the season, most in the majors.
On Tuesday, Cishek was informed by manager Mike Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez of the decision to move him out of the role, at least for the time being.
In the meantime, Redmond said he would “mix and match” in the ninth inning, though A.J. Ramos figures to receive the bulk of the duties, with help from Mike Dunn.
Although Ramos hasn’t recorded a save in the majors, he’s been the Marlins’ best reliever and has a wealth of ninth-inning experience in the minors, where he totaled 83 saves.
“We’ve got A.J., we’ve got Dunn, we’ve got [Bryan Morris],” Redmond said of his ninth-inning choices. “Some of it may depend on what we have got to use to get to that spot. We’re not going to say one guy’s going to do it. We’re going to have to rely on everybody down there.”
The hope within the Marlins is that Cishek returns to form while being used earlier in relief.
There was a point in 2013, after he started out 1-4, when Cishek went nearly a month without a save.
“We’re going to try to do what we did two years ago, pitch him a few times earlier in the game, and get him back on track,” Redmond said. “That’s the best course of action going forward to get him right.”
Said Cishek of his experience in ’13: “I just hope it works out like it did then. I found the groove again and got the role back.”
Dunn said Cishek just needs to clear his head and find his old groove.
“We all know Steve’s our closer,” Dunn said. “He just needs a little breather right now. We all know our best chance of winning is going to be with him in the ninth inning, so we’ve got to get him right as fast as we can.”
Although the Marlins have spoken to agent Scott Boras about free agent closer Rafael Soriano, sources said neither side is close to a deal and that the preference for the Marlins would be to solve the closer situation with in-house candidates.
But a move was clearly necessary after Cishek’s recent run of meltdowns. He has saved only three games, and his four blown saves is as many as he had all of last season.
“Anytime you have leads late and you can’t hold on to them, it crushes you,” Redmond said following Monday’s loss. “You’ve got to win those games. Cishek has done a tremendous job for us, but at the end of the day it’s about winning games.”
Cishek was at a loss after Monday’s game to explain his sudden struggles.
“This is about as low as I can get,” Cishek said. “This is a huge trial in my life right now. I’ve always found a way to get out of it. I’m just waiting for that time to come.”
Cishek said he and Hernandez studied video Tuesday and determined that his delivery mechanics are off, which could be part of the problem. He said his arm slot is “a little low,” and that some of his pitches are tailing off, especially to lefties.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Cishek said. “I feel fine out there. I’m just not getting away with any mistakes, first of all. Second of all, I’m making too many mistakes.”
On Monday, he made one mistake too many, and it cost him his job.
▪ Second baseman Dee Gordon said he apologized to infield coach Perry Hill after showing off his basketball skills by making a behind-the-back toss to first base on a ground-ball out Monday.
“I told him ‘sorry,’ ” Gordon said.
Hill, who preaches fundamentals, said with a laugh: “I wasn’t too thrilled about it, and you can tell him I said so. You can tell him I’m still mad at him. He knows that ain’t my thing.”
▪ Henderson Alvarez pitched six scoreless innings Tuesday in a rehab start for Single A Jupiter. Alvarez, who is nearing his return from the disabled list for right shoulder inflammation, gave up four hits in the outing, struck out five, and did not walk any batters.
Alvarez might receive one more rehab start before coming off the DL and rejoining the Marlins rotation.
Wednesday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (1-3, 3.67) at Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Carlos Frias (3-0, 2.13), 7:50 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
Thursday: Off day.