How the 2010 Marlins were acquired: Pitchers

Yesterday I discussed how the hitters of 2010 Marlins initially became Marlins, and today I figured I’d go into how this season’s pitchers came to wear the the Marlins uniform. I direct you to that previous link for the full explanation of the methodology, but the essence of this project is to show the original source of all the Marlins on the 2010 roster and categorize them by these groups. For the pitchers, I’ll be taking the guys with the 13 highest IP totals from the 2010 season.

Amateur Draft

Josh Johnson, RHP
Drafted in the fourth round (113th pick) of the 2002 draft
Season Salary: $3.75M
2011 Status: 2nd year of a 4-year extension (2010-2013)
2010 Stats: 183 2/3 IP, 186 K, 48 BB, 2.30 ERA, 2.41 FIP
Marlins Career: 665 IP, 611 K, 223 BB, 3.10 ERA

Johnson’s 2009 season ranked as the seventh best season by a Marlin in team history according to Rally’s WAR. This year ranks even higher, as Johnson racked up a career-best 6.4 WAR thanks to some good luck and an even better performance in strikeouts and walks. Johnson improved in all areas of his game, upping his strikeout rate to more than one per inning and dropping his walk rate enough to yield an absurd 2.41 FIP to go along with his equally impressive 2.30 ERA. Can we look forward to three more years of this sort of performance? Probably not, at least not at this level, but the deal Johnson has ensures that the Marlins will have a very affordable ace for the next few seasons.

Chris Volstad, RHP
Drafted in the first round (16th pick) of the 2006 draft
Season Salary: $420K
2011 Status: Pre-arbitration, 3rd year
2010 Stats: 175 IP, 102 K, 60 BB, 4.58 ERA, 4.34 FIP
Marlins Career: 418 1/3 IP, 261 K, 155 BB, 4.47 ERA

There is a big drop-off from the dominant Johnson and the middling Volstad, and Marlins fans might just have to get used to it. Volstad has racked up 418 innings and displayed similar strikeout and walk performances in each of those seasons with drastically varying results. In 2008, the success came from his good home run luck. In 2009, the problem was from his bad home run luck. In 2010, I think we saw a more typical Volstad-style performance, the sort of work we’d expect to see in the future. The question is whether a pitcher worth around 1.5 WAR a season is going to be worth holding onto as he enters his arbitration years after 2011.

Alex Sanabia, RHP
Drafted in the 32nd round (965th pick) of the 2006 draft
Season Salary: $400K
2010 Status: Pre-arbitration, 2nd year
2010 Stats: 72 1/3 IP, 47 K, 16 BB, 3.75 ERA, 3.65 FIP
Marlins Career: 72 1/3 IP, 47 K, 16 BB, 3.75 ERA

The rookie Sanabia really impressed the Marlins with his 12 starts filling in late in the 2010 season. He showed decent command and was average in the key markers for regression (BABIP and strand rate), indicating a fair assessment of his performance. One thing that we can expect to go up should the 22-year old pitch significant innings for the Fish in 2011 is his home run rate, as he is not much of a ground ball pitcher and should expect some more fly balls to leave the yard. Nevertheless, Sanabia’s emergence as an interesting option is definitely something to watch out for in the upcoming season.

Minor League Free Agent

Clay Hensley, RHP
Signed as a minor league free agent in 2009
2011 Status: Arbitration, 1st year
2010 Stats: 75 IP, 77 K, 29 BB, 2.16 ERA, 2.87 FIP
Marlins Career: 75 IP, 77 K, 2.16 ERA

Hensley started the season with a respectable Spring Training, impressing the Fish enough to be tabbed for the fifth starter spot. However, when the Marlins acquired Nate Robertson right before the year started, Hensley was relegated to a bullpen role and flourished, as the numbers can clearly show. Even though he still throws soft-toss stuff (88.5 MPH fastball velocity), he racked up more than one strikeout per inning while getting a 53% GB%, two big aspects to any pitcher’s formula to success. It should be interesting to see how much Hensley is awarded in this first arbitration year after being out of the majors for two seasons for a full year.

Brian Sanches, RHP
Signed as a minor league free agent in 2008
Season Salary: $412.5K
2011 Status: Pre-arbitration, 2nd year
2010 Stats: 63 2/3 IP, 54 K, 27 BB, 2.26 ERA, 4.13 FIP
Marlins Career: 120 IP, 105 K, 53 BB, 2.40 ERA

Sanchez had a second straight season in which he overperformed his FIP, and I’m inclined to believe his FIP is more realistic of his talent than his ERA suggests. His K and BB rates are acceptable for a starter, but as a reliever he is mediocre despite the shiny low ERA. Nevertheless, performing well and still being on a rookie contract usually gets you back on the Marlins, so expect him to remain with the team until he hits arbitration.

Jose Veras, RHP
Signed as a minor league free agent in 2009
Season Salary: $550K
2011 Status: Arbitration, 2nd year
2010 Stats: 48 IP, 54 K, 29 BB, 3.75 ERA, 4.06 ERA
Marlins Career: 48 IP, 54 K, 29 BB, 3.75 ERA

Veras is like the anti-Hensley in that he is a fireballing (94.4 MPH fastball velocity) who can rack up strikeouts but has difficulty knowing where his pitches will land, resulting in ineffectiveness despite his tools. He is also a heavy fly ball pitcher (42.8% FB% career) and is thus more succeptible to the home run problem. Veras could or could not be back with the Fish next year; his status is as uncertain as he was on the mound in 2010.

Jorge Sosa, RHP
Signed as a minor league free agent in 2009
Season Salary: $400K
2011 Status: Free agent
2010 Stats: 36 2/3 IP, 19 K, 18 BB, 4.66 ERA, 4.93 FIP
Marlins Career: 36 2/3 IP, 19 K, 18 BB, 4.66 ERA

Sosa, on the other hand, was simply awful no matter when he came up and pitched for the Marlins, including two late season starts so awful they made me gag just thinking about them. He won’t be back, so there’s little need to discuss anything about him.

Trade

Anibal Sanchez, RHP
Acquired in a trade with Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia, and Hanley Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota in 2005
Season Salary: $1.25M
2011 Status: Arbitration. 2nd year
2010 Stats: 195 IP, 157 K, 70 BB, 3.55 ERA, 3.32 FIP
Marlins Career: 477 IP, 364 K, 208 BB, 3.74 ERA

Sanchez broke through with a career year in 2010, topping 120 IP for the first time after three injury-riddled seasons. The Marlins need him over the next few years to fill out the rotation, but there are always heavy concerns about Sanchez, and they aren’t just those of the injury variety. Sanchez needs to show off a more consistently strong performance, including a similar walk rate and probably an increase in strikeouts, in order to be considered for an extension by the Fish.

Ricky Nolasco, RHP
Acquired in a trade with Sergio Mitre and Renyel Pinto from the Chicago Cubs for Juan Pierre in 2005
Season Salary: $3.8M
2011 Status: Arbitration (Super 2), 3rd year
2010 Stats: 157 2/3 IP, 147 K, 33 BB, 4.51 ERA, 3.86 FIP
Marlins Career: 716 1/3 IP, 638 K, 169 BB, 4.45 ERA

Nolasco is the biggest enigma on the Marlins roster. Even though his peripherals have shined for three straight seasons (including eerily exact K/BB of around 4.44 each year), he only has a 4.31 ERA to show for it. He is undoubtedly the Marlins’ second best pitcher, and at a certain point I would have considered him the co-ace of the staff alongside Johnson, but with two years of struggles outside of his expected performance, fans and the Marlins’ front office have to wonder if he has what it takes to be worth a three- or four-year extension.

Nate Robertson, LHP
Acquired in a trade from the Detroit Tigers for Jay Voss in 2010
Season Salary: $10M ($9.6M paid by Detroit Tigers)
2011 Status: Free agent
2010 Stats (Marlins): 100 1/3 IP, 61 K, 40 BB, 5.47 ERA, 4.66 FIP
Marlins Career: 108 2/3 IP, 64 K, 44 BB, 5.96 ERA

Remember when I proclaimed that Nate Robertson couldn’t cost us too much? Well, he ended up being as bad as my worst case scenario described, but the Marlins can’t feel too bad about that. Though he pitched pretty poorly, he came off even worse than that, and the Fish quickly designated him for assignment and let him loose. Of course, soon after the team struggled with injuries to their top two starters and could have used some warm bodies to start for them, but that’s neither here nor there. Luckily the team didn’t surrender much for him.

Burke Badenhop, RHP
Acquired in a trade with Eulogio de la Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabello, and Dallas Trahern from the Detroit Tigers for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis
Season Salary: $407.5K
2011 Status: Arbitration, 1st year
2010 Stats: 72 IP, 47 K, 21 BB, 3.99 ERA, 3.67 FIP
Marlins Career: 187 IP, 139 K, 66 BB, 4.43 ERA

Badenhop put in his second straight year of workmanlike performance out of the pen, and I’m of the opinion that he has a shot at being the most valuable piece to come from that ill-fated Miguel Cabrera trade. He is a solid player who will enter arbitration and may become to expensive for his role, but here’s to seeing the Hopper return to the team for a few more years.

Leo Nunez, RHP
Acquired in a trade from the Kansas City Royals for Mike Jacobs
Season Salary:
$2M
2011 Status: Arbitration, 2nd year
2010 Stats: 65 IP, 71 K, 21 BB, 3.46 ERA, 2.86 FIP
Marlins Career: 133 2/3 IP, 131 K, 48 BB, 3.77 ERA

Ironically, Nunez held onto his closer job despite blowing the same rate of saves this season as last season (79%) and despite having a significantly better year peripherally than any other year in his career (2.86 FIP). He is still the favorite to win the closer job next season, and if he can continue this sort of performance, that decision should pay off for the Marlins. But it’s scary to think that a slightly poor Spring Training will end up taking the job from him when he is likely the more deserving candidate compared to Hensley.

Andrew Miller, LHP

I’ve spent quite a few words on Miller and his poor play, and I suspect I need not expound on that further. He is gone this season.

Topics: Anibal Sanchez, Chris Volstad, Clay Hensley, Josh Johnson, Leo Nunez, Miami Marlins, Ricky Nolasco

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