This is going to be a short piece on the rest of the pen, mostly because the pen has already been well discussed here on Marlin Maniac. Who else will fill in the gaps? Let’s take a look.
Middle Relief: Brian Sanches
Middle Relief: Renyel Pinto
Middle Relief/Long Reliefl: Burke Badenhop
Long Relief/Spot Start/Mop-up: One of the extra starters
I think the Marlins will fill out the pen as such. Sanches and Pinto will be used as middle relief guys to bail out starters in jams or fill in the seventh inning. As I mentioned in the reliever splits piece, Sanches may be a solid candidate to pitch higher-leverage innings, but undoubtedly the Marlins will pass on that opportunity in favor of Mike MacDougal or one of the other “veteran” relievers on minor league contracts. Nevertheless, I don’t personally believe Sanches’ success can continue as well as it did last year; after looking like a Quad-A pitcher in terms of home runs allowed in the last three seasons (HR/FB% of well over 15% each year), Sanches allowed only 5% of his fly balls to leave the yard this season. Clearly he’s going to be somewhere in between, but him allowing a lot of fly balls means his stuff better keep hitters off the bases.
Pinto has awful control, a poor attitude, and two things going for him: a ridiculous changeup that dips off the face of the earth and the ability to force weak contact for some reason. Maybe it’s that changeup that get hitters fooled, but I do feel like he’s a bit better than his FIP will point out, the type of pitcher that does better on balls in play than most. Still, no pitcher can be successful walking 14.7% of their hitters faced.
Badenhop is an interesting candidate for more work, as he’s displayed quite a knack for keeping the ball on the ground and controlling the zone. Unfortunately, it seems like his quirky 3/4 delivery is helping fool righties, because it certainly isn’t fooling lefties; he displayed the worst split among our relief pitchers.
Finally, my bet is on Rick VandenHurk getting the nod as a reliever for mop-up and spot starts. As I mentioned before, I think he can actually take on late-inning duties with his stuff, provided you pray about the home run problem he’s had. Perhaps out of the pen, he can go “all-out” more often, avoid lefties more consistently, and perhaps avoid the home runs.