Tag:Clay Hensley
Posted on: November 20, 2010 6:47 pm

Marlins closer looks to stay Nunez despite issues

The Marlins' bullpen took on added clarity Saturday, as GM Larry Beinfest made two declarations.

The first is that Clay Hensley is likely to remain in the bullpen, as Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post relays. Hensley contended for a rotation spot in spring training before losing out to Nate Robertson. He put together a gem of a season in the bullpen, pitching 75 innings and posting a 2.16 ERA, whiffing 77 and walking 29.

Hensley will set up what figures to be Leo Nunez, but Beinfest wouldn't commit to that.

Nunez "I think it's going to be be Leo [Nunez], but we have to filter that out in spring training," Beinfest said of the closer's position via Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel .

Nunez lost his closer's job near the end of the season after an overreliance on the changeup caused him to finishwith a 3.46 ERA and 30 saves. Given that was an improvement on 2009's 4.06 ERA and 26 saves, you would think the Marlins would be thrilled -- not so. Nunez (pictured) can be so much better, and his peripherals indicate he can reach elite status.

That's where newly signed catcher John Buck might come in.

"I know Nuñez very well,'' Buck told the Miami Herald , smiling as he recalled his Royals teammate from 2005-08. "It looks like he's 6 years old out there throwing 100 mph, right? It still baffles me how a little body like that can throw the ball that hard.''

Florida is expected to offer arbitration to Nunez, which may give the young closer a $4 million salary in 2012, so the team has plenty invested in the youngster.

"He's a competitor, and he has the attitude of `It's going to be me or you today,''' Buck said. "He'll go after you whether he's getting hit or not.''

Ah, but the catch is the changeups.

"The thing for me is, when he overthrows his changeup a little bit, that's when he definitely gets hurt," Buck added.

And that's going to be part of Buck's job in Florida -- to correct that trait of Nunez's.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Category: MLB
Posted on: September 30, 2010 12:43 pm

Hensley could return to starting

Clay Hensley Since taking over for Leo Nunez as the Marlins' closer, Clay Hensley is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities.

Couple that with a strong overall year based on 72 innings of a 2.25 ERA, whiffing 72 and walking 27, good enough for a 3.46 xFIP, and it's no wonder why the Marlins are interested in bringing Hensley back.

The 31-year-old, however, may be serving in a completely different role for 2011.
"I already told [Hensley] I like him better as a starter or a middle reliever than a closer," manager Edwin Rodriguez told the Palm Beach Post . "But it's good to know as a player, as a manager, you have a guy you can rely on to close games."

Given Hensley doesn't crack 90 mph with his fastball, it's easy to see why Rodriguez is iffy using him as a closer. In fact, the Marlins planned to have Hensley fill a rotation spot until acquiring Nate Robinson just before the start of the regular season.

"I love starting, and if I go back to it that's obviously fine," Hensley, who will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after the season, said. "But I kind of enjoy what I'm doing now too."

The righty is in the middle of his first season that doesn't involve starting. He's spent the majority of the season as a middle reliever, being elevated to the job of closer after Leo Nunez lost his gig.

Hensley's experience comes in the rotation, spending parts of 2005-08 with the Padres making 40 starts and 66 relief appearances. Overall, he had a 4.09 ERA in four years with San Diego. The bulk of his starts came in 2006 with 29 starts along with eight jogs from the bullpen, notching a 3.71 ERA. Hensley spent all of 2009 in the minors between the Astros and Marlins, making 19 starts for the Fish's Triple-A team.

Being a starter is clearly something Hensley loves, but he realizes that it may not be in his best interest.

"For the longevity of my career it might be a better fit," he noted. "I'm also realistic about my body and going out there and throwing 200 innings every year... that can take its toll. Maybe as a career decision, [closing] might be a better move."

Florida may move forward with Hensley as closer if they don't import any options. Nunez will likely make around $4 million in arbitration. Coming off a year where Nunez clearly regressed in the second half, the Marlins may not be prepared to give Nunez $4 million, clearing the way for Hensley to keep his job.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed .
Category: MLB
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