Washington Nationals Free Agent Profile: Steve Cishek


With Steve Cishek recently non-tendered by the Cardinals, could he be an option for the Nats bullpen?

Throughout the offseason, we have looked at different reliever options for the Washington Nationals to fix their bullpen. With the Nats expected to make major changes to their bullpen, they are going to need versatile relievers to fill the middle innings. Last night, the team decided to non-tender reliever Craig Stammen, making him a free agent:

One option that could be in play for Mike Rizzo and the front office is veteran right-hander Steve Cishek.Yesterday, Cishek had his contract non-tendered for this season by the St. Louis Cardinals, meaning that he is now a free agent. This season, the Cardinals acquired the 29-year-old from the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline for right-handed pitching prospect, Kyle Barraclough.

Over the last 27 games of the 2015 season, Cishek had a 2.31 ERA for the Cardinals. In 23.1 innings, he gave up six earned runs, struck out 20 batters, and walked 13. During the early portion of the season, he was 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 32 games for the Marlins and he eventually lost the closer role to A.J. Ramos.

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Despite Cishek’s 2015 struggles, he is not too far removed from being one of the best closers in the National League. In 2013, he was sixth in the NL in saves with 34 and finished the most games (62). One year later, his 34 saves were good for fifth in the league. Plus, this past season, he held opponents to a .206 average and had a 1.98 ERA over his final 30 games.

Over the course of his careers, Cishek has struggled with his command at times, but it was his strikeouts that went down last season. After having 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 2014, he had 7.8 this season. His walks per nine innings would go up from 2.9 in 2014 to 4.4 this past season.

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One cause of concern for a team that might sign Cishek is a decline in velocity on his fastball. According to Fangraphs, the average velocity on his fastball went from almost 92 miles per hour in 2014 to almost 91 miles per hour this past season. However, his slider has been his secondary pitch he uses most often when he doesn’t go to the fastball.

Next: Why The Nats Should Bring Back Craig Stammen

All in all, if the Washington Nationals were to sign Cishek, it would be a low-risk, high-reward signing to get a reliever with NL East experience. While he’s used to being a closer, he did pitch in the middle innings with St. Louis. Considering he would be heading into his age-30 season, this is a move the Nats should consider as an alternative option to help their bullpen in 2016.