Cishek has pitched in the major leagues since 2010, the first five-and-a-half years with the Marlins. He started picking up saves for the Marlins in 2012 and was the team’s closer in 2013 and 2014, when he saved 34 and 39 games. He started last year as the closer but had a 9.82 ERA in April and 5.25 ERA in May. Along the way he blew four of seven save chances and racked up six losses. Basically, he was the Miami Marlins’ version of Fernando Rodney last year. He was removed from the closer's role in May and sent down to AA in early June. He came back to the big leagues in mid-June but was eventually traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in late July.
The ERA-estimators at Fangraphs suggest that Cishek “should” have had a better ERA with the Marlins:
CiCishek has never been a big fastball guy. His peak average fastball velocity was 92.7 mph in 2011 and it has been dropping ever since. Last year, his average fastball was 90.8 mph. That ranked 112th out of 137 qualified relievers. As such, he doesn’t throw it as often as most relievers. Instead, he makes frequent use of his slider. He threw the slider 41.2% of the time in 2015, which ranked 11th among 137 relievers. That was actually down from his stellar 2014 seasons when he threw 48.1% sliders, 4th in baseball for relievers. One concern for pitchers who rely so heavily on the slider is potential arm trouble down the road. Hopefully this won’t be an issue for Cishek during the two years he’s signed to close out Mariner games.
Cishek can best be described as a serviceable closer. He most likely won’t be elite. He won’t have the strikeout rate of the traded Carson Smith and he’ll cost much more than Smith would have cost. The Mariners wanted the reliable 200-inning starting pitching of Wade Miley, so they had to give up Smith. Now Cishek becomes the closer. The hopeful scenario is that Cishek bounces back to the pitcher he was in 2013-2014, when he saved 73 games over two seasons and had a 2.73 ERA.