Marlins in need of closer ahead of game with Reds (Jul 29, 2017)

BY AP • July 29, 2017

MIAMI -- When the Miami Marlins play the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night, don't look for closer A.J. Ramos.

He was traded late Friday night to one of their National League East rivals, the New York Mets.

Ramos, 30, has 92 saves since the start of the 2015 season, including 20 this year. He was an All-Star last season when he saved 40 games and posted his third straight season with an ERA below 3.00. His 90.9 save percentage this season is ranked fifth in the majors among relievers with at least 20 saves.

"This was especially tough," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said of the Ramos trade. "A.J. is a guy we drafted and developed. We wish him the best -- except when he's playing us."

The move to deal Ramos could affect Saturday's third game of the series against the Reds as well as many other games going forward.

Miami had already traded veteran reliever David Phelps to the Seattle Mariners last week. Relievers Kyle Barraclough and Brad Ziegler are on the disabled list.

That leaves Marlins manager Don Mattingly with no obvious choice to use as his new closer. Options include veterans such as Dustin McGowan, who picked up the win over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night with one scoreless inning of work, or Junichi Tazawa, who has a 5.28 ERA.

Rookies Drew Steckenrider and Jarlin Garcia are long shots to be the new closer, and the same goes for three pitchers who have spent most of this season in the minors: Brian Ellington, Hunter Cervenka and Odrisamer Despaigne.

The timing of the trade was interesting became it was announced well after the Marlins defeated the Reds 7-4 on Friday night. And the Marlins (48-53) are playing well, winning six of their past eight games.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati (41-62) has lost five games in a row and 13 of its past 15.

On Saturday, the Marlins will send left-hander Adam Conley (3-3, 5.62 ERA) to the mound against Reds right-hander Tim Adleman (5-8, 5.11).

Conley is 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in two career appearances, both starts, against Cincinnati. Adleman will be making his first career appearance against the Marlins.

Judging by the numbers, neither pitcher has had a great year. Conley had a promising start to his career, going 12-7 combined in his first two years, recording an ERA below 4.00 in both seasons.

But then this season happened and Conley was brutal, getting himself demoted to the minors after his May 8 start sporting a 7.53 ERA.

In Conley's defense, he has gotten himself back on track since returning to the majors. He has allowed just two runs in 13 innings, covering his first two starts back in the majors, good for a 1.38 ERA. He has eight strikeouts and two walks during that span.

Adleman, meanwhile, has had trouble with the long ball. Opponents have hit 11 homers against him in his past seven starts, tied for the most in the majors during that span. He has allowed at least one homer in 11 straight games.

Yet there are some promising signs for Adleman, who has been durable, making 19 consecutive starts this year. He has seven quality starts, which is second on the Reds.

The Reds, who have lost seven straight games at Marlins Park, are hoping Adleman can produce his eighth quality start on Saturday.

But Reds manager Bryan Price cautioned not to make too much of his team's skid in Miami.

"You look at our winning percentage since the second half of 2014, and it hasn't been very good," he said. "We haven't won a lot of games anywhere. I don't think this is any different than any other venue."

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