The Marlins placed just Antoine Bender on the 15-day disabled list due to back stiffness, with the placement retroactive to May 23. In the corresponding movement, the utility Willians Astudillo joined the active roster after his contract was selected from Triple-A.
Bender has recorded six of Miami’s nine total saves this year, getting most of the ninth-inning work while Dylan Florio was on the injured list. While Floro has struggled since returning to action, Bender has also done little to fully cement his grip on the closer job. Through 14 innings, Bender has a 4.50 ERA and strikeout/walk rates slightly below league average, and he’s given up three homers. However, Bender was also hurt by a .359 BABIP, which is especially damaging for a pitcher who relies so heavily on ground players.
The Marlins could turn to all or part of Cole Sulser, Tanner Scott, Louis Heador Anthony Bass for backups while Bender is away. Manager Don Mattingly said during spring training that the team is more likely to take a committee approach unless a pitcher emerges as the clear best choice for backup situations, so it could be that the Marlins just keep rolling with no real closer.
Astudillo signed a minor league contract with Miami shortly after the lockout ended, and he hit .286/.326/.464 with four home runs for Triple-A Jacksonville in 89 plate appearances. A veteran of four MLB seasons with the Twins, Astudillo was a Minnesota fan favorite, and his ability to play almost anywhere on the field took him to 167 games at every position except shortstop.
While “La Tortuga” only hits well occasionally, that extreme versatility gives Miami an interesting new piece of depth on what is now a mix of 14-position players. One would imagine that another move could be coming to add another arm to the bullpen. Jazz Chisholm Jr. missed the last two games with hamstring strain, but in a positive step, Chisholm participated in nearly full baseball activity today.