After one too many ninth-inning nail-biters from Matt Lindstrom -- including the last two games, which began with seemingly safe 6-3 leads Lindstrom squandered after two quick outs -- Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez was starting to get asked what he planned to do about his closer.
After all, Lindstrom had just solidified the highest ERA (6.52) of relievers in baseball with at least 14 saves, at the same time the Fish earned their way back up to .500 and took a series from the Yankees. The team had a chance to make a run up the standings, and Gonzalez was relying heavily on a guy describing his own play with "unacceptable," and "change."
Would they send him to his room to think about what he'd done, or leave him in in the hopes he'd get his confidence back?
Our expert solution: "injure him permanently." Gonzalez chose "leave him in."
Fate took the combination platter.
Lindstrom has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow (it was originally reported as an injury to his "forearm area," which is funny because a forearm is not much of an area -- "area" should follow only "bathing suit" and "groin," no?). He will be unable to throw for six weeks, which gives the Marlins time to get back in his head and fix whatever's going on up there.
Interestingly, Lindstrom is just now mentioning that he felt anything off at all during the last few outings. The elbow didn't keep him from throwing fastballs in the 90s, but he said Wednesday he'd been unable to throw breaking pitches with any oomph. No arguments here! Off you go.
Who'll replace him? The backend of the bullpen's pretty vacant; no one available for Wednesday night's game in Baltimore has a single major league save to his credit. But assuming the Fish live to tell about it, reliever Leo Nunez is expected to miss only another day or two with a tweaked ankle, and Kiko Calero should return from a shoulder injury on July 3. Reliever Chris Leroux has been called up from Double-A Jacksonville in the meantime, though he's not likely to see the field anytime soon -- between Leroux and fellow reliever Tim Woods, there are exactly two innings of MLB experience. Good luck, starters.
Lindstrom, for his part, might want to go ahead and do a little extra rehab the next time he blows a couple three-run leads. Whatever Fredi Gonzalez is hesitant to fix, the gods clearly aren't.