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The Miami Marlins have a team that is good enough to make the playoffs.  The lineup is strong and balanced, the rotation has some very strong and consistent arms and the bullpen features a steady mix of guys who know how to get outs.  This was supposed to be the season that Marlins fans had been waiting for since the mid-2000’s.

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Unfortunately, one of Miami’s best players over the past two years is costing them wins at a suddenly alarming rate. Closer Steve Cishek blew his fourth save of the season on Monday night in Los Angeles.  He’s had only seven save opportunities. It’s doesn’t take a baseball guru to see the huge problem here.

There was no reason for the Marlins to think that Cishek would struggle this season.  He’d converted on 73 of 79 save opportunities during the past two seasons and at 29-years-old he’s right in what should be the prime of his career.  That just hasn’t been the case so far in 2015 though.

Following Monday’s blown save, Cishek’s record is 1-3, his ERA is up to an alarming 10.32 and his WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) has risen above two at 2.029.  His WHIP has always been a little higher than what you’d like to see out of a closer.  At 1.212, his career WHIP is slightly better than the league average but closers like to keep that number under one.

Marlins manager Mike Redmond noted Monday night that he’s likely going to mix and match his ninth inning pitching.  The problem is that there isn’t one particular guy in Miami’s bullpen who you can see jumping right into that ninth inning role.  There are several guys that pitch well and it will be up to Redmond and Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez who is on deck as the next potential game-saver.  Here are the top closing options for the Marlins moving forward.

A.J. Ramos

Ramos has shown to be a solid reliever during his time with the Marlins but inconsistency has kept him from consideration as a closer. Whether it be with his mechanics, his release point or his propensity to walk hitters, Ramos has yet to prove he is worth of ninth inning work.  A good start would be for him to throw more first pitch strikes and perhaps get his 2-seam fastball to sink a bit more.

Bryan Morris

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Since being acquired in a trade from the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Morris has been one of the more dependable arms on the Marlins staff.  He doesn’t have an overpowering fastball or a ridiculous breaking pitch but he gets the job done time and time again.  His lack of ‘excitement’ may be what has kept him under the radar as a potential closer but Redmond would be wise to keep him in consideration for the role.

Mike Dunn

The Marlins have just two left handed pitchers on their staff; Mike Dunn and Brad Hand.  Dunn, like Ramos, has shown flashes of why he could be a successful closer but consistency has been lacking. He handles both lefties and righties pretty well but has definitely had more success against left handed hitters. He is similar to Cishek in that both throw mostly fastballs and sliders. His career has slowly but surely progressed since making his Marlins debut in 2011 and he could very well end up being a successful closing option.

Sam Dyson

It’s seems like a stretch to consider Dyson for the closer job but he’s included on this list because he’s got the potential to get there. With an upper 90’s fastball and a reasonable breaking pitch, Dyson could eventually find himself being called upon to get the final outs of a game if he can just limit the walks.  So far 2015 has been his best statistical season and if he can continue to build on that Redmond may just look his way in the later innings.

Rafael Soriano

The 35-year-old veteran closer is currently a free agent and after Cishek’s latest debacle the Marlins are said to be in contact with Soriano’s agent, Scott Boras.  Miami considered making an offer to Soriano during the offseason but chose to pursue Francisco Rodriguez before he elected to re-sign with Milwaukee for $3 million more than what the Marlins offered.  Soriano had a rough second half of the season for the Nationals last year but has been a solid closer throughout his career.

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