If the Detroit Tigers have shown us anything in the last week, it's that they are still in desperate need of reliable bullpen help. Recent addition Neftali Feliz has only added to the problem, allowing five runs in an 11-9 loss to the Seattle Mariners on July 21. The Tigers are still in the hunt for an AL wild card spot, and will likely be looking to add talent at the MLB trade deadline.
Enter Steve Cishek. The Miami Marlins are drawing plenty of interest in Cishek, who has been one of the more underrated relief pitchers in baseball over the past few years. Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported that the Tigers were one of several teams "involved" in the Cishek sweepstakes, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals currently leading the way. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com added the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays into the mix as well.
The Marlins relied on the 29-year-old righthander as their closer over the past two and a half seasons, but he lost his job early this year after allowing 13 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. He blew four of his first seven save opportunities and was swiftly banished to middle relief. A serious lack of command was partially to blame, as the normally pinpoint sidearmer allowed eight walks during that short stretch of games.
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Since then, Cishek has returned to his old self. He has a 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings since losing his closer job, with 15 strikeouts to six walks. He has allowed a 2.87 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with a 2.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 288 2/3 career innings. A sidearmer who generates plenty of ground balls, Cishek has only given up 12 home runs in his entire career.
Because of his extensive history as a closer -- he has 94 saves in 108 career opportunities -- Cishek earned himself a fat raise through arbitration last winter. He is still only in his first year of eligibility, but is earning $6.65 million this season. With two more arb raises left to go and that save total only rising, his salary is quickly getting too rich for the Marlins' blood. Cishek has been on the trade block before, but with the Marlins languishing in the depth of the National League standings, it makes sense for them to take the prospect payday now.
The Tigers and Marlins have an extensive trade history with one another, including a trade deadline blockbuster in 2012. The Tigers have also expressed interest in the Marlins' starters this year, though it's unclear whether they are looking for a rental or a younger pitcher with more long-term control. Either way, grabbing Cishek would be a major boost to a bullpen looking for help anywhere it can find it at this point in the season.