Cervenka excited to join Marlins' playoff push

Cervenka excited to join Marlins' playoff push

DENVER -- The transition of pitching for a cellar dweller to a contender was a welcomed change for Marlins left-hander Hunter Cervenka, but the feeling of being wanted at all was special to him in the not-so-distant past.

In his seventh season in the Minor Leagues, Cervenka finally made it to Triple-A with the Cubs in 2015, but he was released after posting an 11.08 ERA in 12 outings. Cervenka went home and waited for a call from another team, but it never came.

After nearly three weeks, Cervenka signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters, an Independent League team. Cervenka figured they were close enough to his Baytown, Texas, home to give it a shot.

"I called my agent and told him I was done," Cervenka said. "Then the opportunity in Sugar Land came along… I went there and pitched well, and the Braves noticed and signed me to a Minor League deal. I was pretty close to calling it quits."

Cervenka tossed eight scoreless inning with 12 strikeouts and one walk and continued his dominance with the Braves between Double-A and Triple-A by not allowing an earned run in 20 2/3 innings.

"I don't know if I just needed a mental blow or what was going on, but from the first time I picked the ball up after being released, everything was just there again," Cervenka said. "No rhyme or reason to anything. I don't think I changed anything mechanically. It was just the reality of being without a job got my mind back into loving the game again."

Before the Marlins acquired him from the Braves for two prospects, he held a 3.18 ERA over 34 innings with 35 strikeouts. Additionally, he has held left-handers to a .143 batting average.

Cervenka is now a second left-hander in the bullpen for Miami, alongside veteran Mike Dunn. The Marlins entered Sunday tied with the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot, while the Braves had the worst record in baseball by four games.

"I saw some rumors at the Deadline, and I don't know if anything was close, but I knew they wanted me," Cervenka said. "To have that is nice. Coming from a team that's not competing this year to a team that's ... in the Wild Card [hunt], it's a great opportunity, and I'm grateful for it. I'm excited to play some meaningful games now."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.