Late Blogservations today, I apologize. Let’s get right to this mess.
The bullpen, oh the bullpen…
In what was otherwise a tight matchup between two evenly matched starters, what broke the Marlins last night was the performance of their bullpen. Burke Badenhop allowed two hits after two fly ball outs, and Renyel Pinto began the trouble immediately after striking out Carlos Pena in a high leverage situation. Pinto walked two men before being pulled for Brian Sanches, who got tagged for the remainder of the runs in the eighth inning. Without two big cogs in the pen for the Marlins, it will be a struggle for the team to get through the seventh through ninth innings. The Rays have had similar problems this year, but the Marlins were not able to capitalize on their struggling bullpen.
If Matt Lindstrom and Kiko Calero are to be out for a decent stretch of time, I think the Marlins have to acquire an efficient bullpen arm at some cost. Pinto has proven for quite some time that he is inconsistent at best and a trainwreck at worst. This year Pinto has averaged 7.52 K/9 and 6.15 BB/9, and has gotten away mostly off a fluky 83.8% strand rate. In addition, he’s posting a career low 5.3% HR/FB while allowing a career high FB% of over 50%. If his profile settles in as such and his HR/FB regresses to his career norms of around 10%, we could be in for four or five extra untimely home runs. Pinto needs to keep the ball down and make up for the walks by upping his K rate, because he’s going to walk men with his poor control.
I’d venture to say that Dan Meyer should have entered the game instead of Pinto. Both are former starters and both pitched the previous evening against Baltimore. The situation in which Pinto came in, with runners on first and third with two out, was an extremely high leverage situation to be allowing Pinto to pitch. Meyer, the team’s current best bullpen guy, could have fared far better. Of course, being pidgeonholed as “the closer,” Fredi refused to run him out prior to the ninth or prior to a save situation. Yet another managerial gaff, though this one all managers are responsible for.
I can’t wait for Leo Nunez to come back, so I get to see less of Pinto.
Josh Johnson wasn’t at his sharpest.
Admittedly, neither was James Shields. Johnson settled down in the later innings and was able to strand a few runners here and there, but the early innings made him work. The first and third, when JJ had to face the Rays’ deadly top of the order, were extremely difficult. Even on the outs in play, the Rays were hitting JJ hard and finding Marlins gloves, a bit of luck on our part. While the peripheral line wasn’t terrible (6 K, 3 BB, no HR in six innings), it was not vintage JJ. A look at some Pitch f/x data as always courtesy of Brooks Baseball.
In particular I was worried about those inconsistent changeups that hung in the zone and were hit hard as a result. His location was a bit of a struggle in the earlier part of the evening as well. I would venture to say that even JJ is mortal and has these type of outings, so you can’t get on him too much overall. Let’s see how he fares his next start.