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2013 Fantasy Baseball Profile: Steve Cishek

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Cishek took over the closer role for the Miami Marlins in mid-July of last season and never looked back. Cishek put up solid numbers as Miami’s closer, and enters 2013 with the same role. Where will Cishek fall in terms of closer value in the fantasy baseball world?

A look back at last season: Cishek went (1-1) with 14 saves in the Marlins’ final 87 games of the season while receiving the end of game handshakes. Once he dethroned Heath Bell of the closer throne, Cishek logged 26.1 innings with 32 strikeouts, 22 hits, 11 base on balls, 10 earned runs, with an ERA of 3.76 and a WHIP of 1.25. Not terrible numbers, although the ERA and WHIP are higher than his career averages of 2.57 and 1.22 respectively.

The 2013 season will be a big opportunity for Cishek. After he takes in the World Baseball Classic experience with teammate Giancarlo Stanton for Team USA, Cishek will start Miami’s season off as the obvious closer. Although the Marlins have Ryan Webb, Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and Jon Rauch on the roster, Cishek would have to give his best Heath Bell impersonation for Miami to make a change to one of them.

Miami ranked 29th in MLB in runs scored for 2012. Considering the team lost Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Carlos Lee, Gaby Sanchez and Omar Infante, and have restocked their batting order with hitters many fans have never heard of, it’s a fair assume that several things will change.

First, the Marlins will likely be in the bottom five teams in the majors in runs scored again in 2013.

Second, when they do somehow have a lead in the game, it’ll likely be by a small enough margin that there will be a save opportunity for Cishek. These are two scenarios I love when prospecting potential closer targets not named Mariano Rivera or Craig Kimbrel.

Cishek, a 26-year old who enters his third season in the big leagues, comes into the year as the team’s designated closer. The experience of closing for the second half of last season will prove to be invaluable for Cishek, as he enters this spring with a more stable and defined role as the closer.

I’ll give you fair warning here, I am in the minority that believes that Steve Cishek will end the season a top-15 closer. For whatever reason, many are projecting Cishek to not be able to maintain his job as closer, on top of not maintaining at least one strikeout per inning pitched. I see Cishek holding back Rauch all season long, and performing as a top-15 MLB closer in 2013 fantasy leagues.

2013 Fantasy Prediction: (5-3) 28 Saves, 3.15 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 82 Ks in 71.0 IP

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @Jewish_Jeff