The Marlins finish off a three-game sweep of the Jays in impressive fashion with an 11-3 win. Here are some of my thoughts on the performance.
Josh Johnson is going through the motions of becoming a true staff ace.
Today JJ did not necessarily have his best stuff, but the one number that did impress me the most was this: nine innings pitched. The complete game was JJ’s second of the season, continuing a string of games where he has gone deep into games; this was his fifth straight start going seven or more innings. A sign of a true staff “ace,” a term often thrown around and rarely truly applicable, is a guy who can pitch workhorse innings (that is, a lot of innings consistently) and pitch well in those increased innings. Johnson already has the filthy stuff to carry him to the top of any rotation, so it’s good, especially being a recovering Tommy John surgery guy, to see him rack up the innings so smoothly.
Now, not all was rainbows and sunshine. His peripherals were not all that sharp today, with only six strikeouts to three walks. That’s still a 2-to-1 K/BB ratio, a good ratio, but not great. More importantly, earlier in the week, after JJ spun an excellent game against the Cardinals, I mentioned that his HR/FB ratio was 2-3% lower than his career norms, and that as a result he had perhaps a deflated HR/9. Well, regression started hitting stride today, as the only runs Johnson allowed came off back-to-back home runs by Alex Rios and Kevin Millar. This isn’t to say that Johnson will be handing out long balls like I dish out unsuccessful date requests to girls around the University, but we should expect some regression in his numbers and a subsequent rise in ERA and FIP. Not to worry everyone, he’s still the best young starter we’ve got and, if the Marlins front office agrees, hopefully an Opening Day starter for years to come.
Fredi still doesn’t know what on-base percentage means.
This has been ticking me off all year obviously, but it showed again when Fredi Gonzalez penciled in Emilio Bonifacio at the 2-hole again after two straight games with Ross Gload batting in that spot. Even if one were to consider what a “classic” #2 hitter is supposed to do, i.e. work pitch counts, hit for contact, bunt runners over, hit and run, all that “small ball” baseball that managers and broadcasters like to talk about but actually is only marginally useful because it often involves giving up outs, Bonifacio has to be the last guy to do this. When you have an extra hitter available, why not just shift your worst hitter to ninth in the order? You don’t even have to worry about the pitcher’s spot afterwards, you just line up your order from better/best hitters to worst hitter. I’m still confounded.