With their All-Star closer on the disabled list, the defending world champions will likely need the newly acquired setup man to finish games when they begin a three-game series with the hapless Arizona Diamondbacks.
Benitez, a scapegoat for most of his five seasons with the New York Mets, has emerged as one of the more consistent closers in the majors this year, converting 33 of 36 save chances while going 2-1 with a stellar 1.25 ERA.
However, the hard-throwing right-hander has been slowed by inflammation in his pitching elbow, and was placed on the DL on Monday, retroactive to July 23. He is eligible for activation Saturday, when the Marlins host Milwaukee.
Mota, formerly Eric Gagne’s setup man in Los Angeles, was acquired from the Dodgers prior to Saturday’s trade deadline in the deal that also brought catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Juan Encarnacion to Florida.
Mota, still awaiting his first appearance for Florida following Sunday’s rainout against Montreal, is 8-4 with a 2.14 ERA in 52 games this season. He did register one save with the Dodgers in a 7-3 win at Arizona on June 4.
Lo Duca made a smashing Florida debut Saturday, belting a pinch-hit homer in his first at-bat for the Marlins. But the Florida bullpen collapsed in the seventh inning as Montreal rallied for an 8-5 win, dropping the Marlins back to .500 after consecutive losses.
“I feel great about this situation,” Lo Duca said after Sunday’s rainout. “Like I said, I’m excited to be here. I’m still a little tired. I slept good last night, though. I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go to Arizona and start off August on the right note.”
The Diamondbacks held on to Randy Johnson at the trade deadline, but continued to struggle on the field, losing three straight at Colorado, including Sunday’s 10-2 drubbing.
Arizona has lost 19 of its last 21 overall.