Monday, June 8, 2009

Marlins Starting Pitching Stabilizes

Being a batter in baseball involves accepting failure in many plate appearances. Great hitters average a career batting average of over .300 - meaning that they have are retired 7 out of every 10 at bats.

On the other hand, pitching is an entire different realm of baseball. Great pitchers have low ERAs and winning records - something that the Florida Marlins pitching rotation is beginning to shape into.

It seems as though the Marlins have finally stabilized themselves from their turbulent beginnings, particularly in the pitching department. The pieces are beginning to fall into place with our starters as more consistent and lengthier starts are starting to characterize the Marlins' pitching performances.

Josh Johnson has emerged as the team's Ace and is beginning to make his money's worth out on the mound. He even hit a 3-run HR recently in order to help out his own cause. The Marlins won that game 4-3.

As for the other starters, there have been surprisingly good performances coming from Chris Volstad and Andrew Miller. If you break down the top three Marlins starters you will see a dip in the ERA charts and a rise in the innings pitched graphs.

Josh Johnson
  • Pitched at least 7 innings in last three starts
  • 20 strikeouts in those games
  • No more than 3 earned runs in those starts
  • Season ERA = 2.63
Chris Volstad
  • Averaged over 6 innings pitched in last three starts
  • 14 strikeouts in those games
  • No more than 3 earned runs in those starts
  • Season ERA = 3.65
Andrew Miller
  • Has averaged about 5 innings pitched in last three starts
  • 13 strikeouts in those games
  • No more than 3 earned runs in those starts
  • Season ERA dropped from 6.43 (April 15) to 4.31 (June 6)
There is obviously a trend in earned runs by the top three Marlins starters in that they have not allowed more than 3 earned runs in their last three starts. The innings pitched statistic is still in need of some improvement, but the starters are generally lasting through half of the game whereas they used to be pulled out by the 4th inning earlier on in the season. If things keep going in this direction, the L's will be replaced by W's for these starters down the road.

Even rookie pitcher, Sean West has put together some solid starts with a decent earned run average of 3.31 in his five starts this season. West has shown signs of veteran-like poise on the mound during his outings, even when the opposing team has piled a few runners on base. For a young pitcher he looks promising to this Marlins organization. He has filled in nicely while Anibal Sanchez has been on the disabled list.
This creates competition between Rick Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Sean West for those 4 and 5 spots in the starting rotation when Sanchez gets healthy. When is the last time the Marlins had competition for a pitching spot? It's usually a struggle for the Fish to find a 4th or 5th starter.

In the greater scheme of things, the Marlins are beginning to shape up and have reached equilibrium. Now fans believe that the Marlins have a decent shot to win every game, whereas everything was doom and gloom just a few weeks back.

Offense will come and go, but pitching must stay consistent if you wish to be a successful team. Let's see if the Marlins can continue to get deep starts from their pitchers and give their bullpen some much needed rest.

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