4/22/2014 11:25 P.M. ET
Cishek's closer numbers up with the best of them
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Steve Cishek has quietly joined Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman as one of the best closers in baseball. The Miami right-hander entered Tuesday having converted 32 consecutive save chances dating back to June 8, 2013, and he notched his 33rd straight in a 1-0 win over the Braves.
Entering Tuesday, Cishek owned a 1.05 ERA and had limited opponents to a .190 batting average over the course of the streak. In comparison, Kimbrel has converted 38-of-40 save chances since June 8, limiting batters to a .160 batting average and posting a 1.24 ERA.
"I just don't like to lose," Cishek said. "I just do everything I can to put a zero on the board, to do whatever I can to help these guys out. They've battled the entire game. The last thing I want to do is go out there and not compete and blow it up for them."
As questions persist regarding the save statistic and whether the ninth inning of a three-run game is really the most high-leverage situation to bring in your best reliever, Cishek believes the stakes are never higher than they are in a team's last at-bat.
"I don't understand how that can't be such a high-stakes situation," Cishek said of the ninth inning. "It's the end of the ballgame. Your team's relying on you to get three outs. The last few outs in the game are the toughest."
In his experience as Miami's closer, Cishek sees lineups become scrappier and much more locked in during the ninth inning. The margin for error all but disappears as teams get more creative and try to exploit any potential weakness.
"If I'm in there and it's the bottom of the order, they're probably going to pinch-hit a lefty with speed and hope that that guy gets on and can take a base from me," Cishek said. "The game kind of just changes right there. There's a whole different approach, and I think it is very difficult."
Given the high stakes of the position, Cishek says operating under a microscope is just part of being a closer. Success is forgotten and failure is magnified.
Kimbrel, whom Cishek called "the best closer in baseball," was pulled from the ninth inning on Saturday against the Mets and blew a save in the Braves' 4-2 10-inning win against the Marlins on Monday night at Turner Field.
Cishek believes Kimbrel, like him, has the "short-term memory" the position requires.
"If you're worried about what people think of you, then closing's probably not the job for you," Cishek said. "I'm not too concerned with that. Kimbrel's a great closer and he's had a rough couple of outings. I'm sure people recognize that more so than the five other saves he has this year."
Whether it was former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera trotting in from the outfield to "Enter Sandman" by Metallica, or Kimbrel taking the hill to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses, Cishek loves the energy closers bring to the ballpark.
When the Marlins call on Cishek in Miami, "Send Me/Represent," a Christian rock song by 116 Clique, plays throughout Marlins Park.
"As a fan, it gets you locked in. You're fired up to see Kimbrel come in and throw 100 [mph], so why not?" Cishek said. "And if you're Kimbrel, that's got to fire him up. That's pretty cool. You've got flames everywhere. 'Welcome to the Jungle,' that song's awesome. It's really cool. It makes the game more fun and it gets your adrenaline pumping for sure."
No four-man rotation: Slowey to start
ATLANTA -- The Marlins decided to give Kevin Slowey a second start in place of the injured Jacob Turner (right shoulder sprain) rather than going with a four-man rotation through April. Off-days this Thursday and next Monday would have made it possible.
Slowey will get the call on Saturday at Citi Field in New York.
"Slowey will throw the second game," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of the weekend series. "So we'll go [Henderson] Alvarez, Slowey, [Tom] Koehler vs. the Mets."
Had Miami elected to go with a four-man rotation of Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, Alvarez and Koehler for the rest of the month, it would have set up Turner's return to the rotation for the first week of May.
Slowey started on Sunday, replacing Brad Hand, who made two starts in Turner's rotation spot. Slowey gave up two runs on three hits in five innings against the Mariners.
In two starts this season, Hand gave up eight earned runs on 12 hits, walked three and struck out six in 6 1/3 combined innings. He owns a 6.35 ERA in four outings and was returned to the bullpen as a long reliever.
Caminero optioned a night after allowing walk-off
ATLANTA -- The Marlins optioned right-hander Arquimedes Caminero to Triple-A New Orleans following Tuesday night's 1-0 win against the Braves at Turner Field. Miami will announce a corresponding move Wednesday morning.
Right-handers Carter Capps and Henry Rodriguez are possibilities to fill the spot Caminero vacated. If Rodriguez gets the call, the Marlins would need to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
Caminero suffered his first career loss on Monday when he surrendered a walk-off two-run homer to Evan Gattis in the 10th inning of a 4-2 Braves victory. The reliever was recalled from New Orleans on April 9, and he owns a 13.50 ERA in five appearances.
Capps, 23, is 0-1 with a 1.64 ERA in seven appearances with the Zephyrs. Rodriguez, 27, has an 0.79 ERA in seven appearances at New Orleans this season.
Slump doesn't diminish Stanton's stellar April
ATLANTA -- Giancarlo Stanton entered Tuesday 0-for-11 since hitting a walk-off grand slam in the Marlins' 8-4 win against the Mariners on Friday night at Marlins Park. However, the slump is a small blip in Stanton's otherwise torrid April.
Stanton entered the game against the Braves leading the Majors with six home runs and 26 RBIs. The slugger's production is a far cry from the month-long slump he endured last April.
Closer Steve Cishek simply described Stanton's start as "phenomenal."
Stanton batted .227 (17-for-75) with three homers and nine RBIs before suffering a hamstring strain on April 29 that sidelined him until June 10. With Stanton healthy and producing, the Marlins are 9-11 instead of 4-16 through their first 20 games.
When Stanton drives in a run, Miami is 7-4. When Stanton does not bring a runner home, the Marlins are 2-7.
How many fastballs have pitchers thrown to Marcell Ozuna (.329 batting average) in the second spot ahead of Stanton?
"I've seen a lot," said Ozuna.
Cishek noted Stanton's health, but said the reason the slugger has returned to elite form is Miami's improved lineup. After Justin Ruggiano was the only Marlin with 10 RBIs last April, four players have already reached that mark this month.
The Marlins signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, first baseman Garrett Jones and third baseman Casey McGehee during the offseason to give Stanton protection. So far, the trio has combined for five home runs and 30 RBIs through 20 games.
That RBI total for a whole season would have ranked seventh on last year's team, and the five homers would have tied backup catcher Jeff Mathis for the fifth most by a Marlin in 2013.
Despite the production, Stanton has been intentionally walked five times this season, already matching his total from last year. Marlins manager Mike Redmond is confident that Stanton's walks will turn into trots if the newcomers keep producing.
"A lot of that is going to depend on how the guys behind Giancarlo hit," Redmond said. "If we get some big hits from Casey and Garrett Jones and Salty, then that forces their hand to pitch to [Stanton] more often, and that'd be a good thing."
Glavine teasing gives Redmond a laugh
ATLANTA -- Hall of Famer Tom Glavine joined Braves broadcasters Chip Caray and Joe Simpson in the booth on Monday, and the announcing team teased Glavine about his struggles to get Marlins manager Mike Redmond out.
Redmond, a former catcher who batted .438 (21-for-48) with two doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs against Glavine, laughed when he heard about Caray and Simpson giving the southpaw grief.
"I had to hit somebody in the league, or I would have been out of there quick," Redmond quipped. "For whatever reason, I had a lot of success against him. ... I probably get more of a kick out of it than he ever will."
• Marlins reliever Mike Dunn is fine after feeling a "small grab" in his left forearm while pitching against the Braves on Monday. Dunn played catch on Tuesday and has not experienced any more issues.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.