Rightfully so, the Marlins like Steve CishekBy
Hudson Belinsky, the Angels bloglord over at Halos Daily, stopped by Marlins Daily to contribute a guest post. Here we have Hudson discussing the Marlins’ usage of Steve Cishek, so be sure to give it a read and stop by Halos Daily to check out Hudson’s Angels goodies. Also, make sure to follow Hudson on Twitter.
Steve Cishek is awesome. His name never graced a top prospects list, he never commanded a huge bonus out of the draft, and he had to succeed at every level of the minor leagues before becoming the big league reliever that he is today. Nonetheless, Cishek has made his way to the Marlins’ bullpen, and entered Sunday having been used in seven of the team’s nine games.
Since 2012 is still very young, let’s take a look at what Cishek did last season and see if it’s sustainable. In his age-25 season the right-hander posted a superb 2.63 ERA over 54.2 innings. He struck out 9.05 batters per nine, while walking 3.13 and racked up 1.0 wins above replacement (FanGraphs), which is very good considering how little he pitched. Cishek had a remarkable groundball rate. His groundball-to-flyball ratio of 2.15 ranked 31st among all pitchers with 40 innings or more, and his groundball rate of 56.8 percent ranked 24th. Cishek’s fastball is basically a sinker, featuring heavy downward movement as it enters the zone. Sinkerball pitchers are typically groundball guys, so Cishek should be able to sustain his high groundball rate.
What makes Cishek so good is the high strikeout rate with the high groundball rate. Obviously it’s a perfect mix, as groundballs are less likely to become hits than fly balls are and strikeouts can’t become hits. Cishek’s delivery is a bit odd. His arm flails toward the plate at a 90° angle and he’s able to generate great downward movement because of his 6-foot-6 frame. The sidearm delivery helps him maximize horizontal movement, particularly with his slider. One knock on pitchers with awkward and deceptive deliveries is that the more players see them, the more effective they are. This is not the case with Cishek, at least not yet. Over the course of his career, 66 batters have two or more plate appearances against Cishek.
Batters who have seen Cishek more than once have .199 batting average versus the .204 average of those who have only faced him only once. This difference is very small, and we certainly don’t have enough. We run into the issue of sample size with whatever stats we look at, but there is no discernable difference between the numbers of those who have faced Cishek numerous times and those who have only seen him once. Obviously we’re going to learn a lot more about Cishek as we see more data, but so far it looks like the Marlins have found a pitcher who could someday pitch in the ninth inning. Cishek’s stuff and results should have fans excited.