Earlier today, I posted some numbers and blurbs on the Marlins’ position players. Of course, that is just the offense and fielding aspects, and we cannot forget the Marlins pitching staff. The team enters the 2011 season with one of the best staffs they have boasted since the early 2000′s. How will the team’s staff play out? Will the focus on the bullpen work? Let’s look at some interesting numbers and discuss the Marlins pitchers in brief.
1. RHP Josh Johnson
Interesting Number: 200
It will be interesting to see how the Marlins handle Johnson and whether he can break the 200-inning barrier after a stellar 2010 season was cut disappointingly short by back and shoulder injuries. Johnson only managed 183 innings last season, but the team will need to rely on him to notch 200+ ace-quality innings for it to compete for the division or Wild Card.
2. RHP Ricky Nolasco
Interesting Number: 3.66
That is Ricky Nolasco‘s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure calculating ERA from only strikeouts, home runs, and walks) from 2008 to 2010. It drastically differs from his 4.36 ERA in that same time period. The past two seasons have been years plagued by bad luck and some strange issues pitching with runners on base. Will these issues continue, or can Nolasco strand some more runners like he did in 2008 and in the second half of 2009?
3. RHP Javier Vazquez
Interesting Number: 2.87
That was Vazquez’s ERA in his last full season pitching in the National League. That year, Vazquez was legitimate Cy Young candidate, throwing 219 1/3 stellar innings for the Atlanta Braves, and those innings did not appear to be luck-driven (2.77 FIP along with that ERA). He likely isn’t as good as that, as there were some serious problems with his velocity in 2010, but a return to the easier pitcher’s environment should help a potential bounceback.
4. RHP Anibal Sanchez
Interesting Number: 30
Similar to Johnson, Sanchez’s success will depend on his health. Last season was his first full healthy season, and he responded excellently, posting a 3.55 ERA and a 3.32 FIP. He likely isn’t this good, but there may be something to the home run suppression he has displayed much of his career. He doesn’t have to improve, but he needs to make 30 starts.
Interesting Number: 50 percent
This should be the target GB% from Chris Volstad in 2011. This is not a projection, but rather merely a hope that he can improve on his rate of grounders and prevent the all-dangerous home run from demolishing his game this upcoming season. He improved via mere regression last season, holding opponents to just 17 homers in a career high 175 innings, but with his stuff, he’ll need to do better than that. As a fifth starter, at least the Marlins will not be depending on heavy innings from him.
Closer: RHP Leo Nunez
Interesting Number: 2.86
That was Nunez’s 2010 FIP, which stands as a significant improvement over his 3.46 ERA and masks the fact that he was a good deal unlucky to blow eight saves in 2010. His unfortunate clutch pitching contributed to what appeared to be a bad Marlins pen that in fact was simply average.
Setup: RHP Clay Hensley
Interesting Number: 25.1 percent
Hensley struck out that percentage of batters faced in 2010, despite no great change in his stuff. He began using fewer fastballs and sliders, adopting a changeup and curve in the process, and these changes apparently made the difference. Will it stick? The team is depending on it.
LHP Randy Choate
Interesting Number: 67.1 percent
Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays were smart with Choate; they brought him in to face lefties 67.1 percent of the time. This is important, as Choate is miserable against righties for his career (5.25 FIP, 5.24 xFIP).
RHP Ryan Webb
Interesting Number: 95
Webb has averaged a fastball velocity of 95 MPH, and that thing has some downward action to it as well, as he has an equally impressive career GB% of 60.7 percent. He may have the best pure stuff of the staff.
RHP Edward Mujica
Interesting Number: 6
Mujica walked just six batters (!) out of 258 total faced in 2010, a pathetically small 2.3 percent rate. To put this into perspective Marlins fans can appreciate, that is 57 percent of the walk rate Miguel Olivo has posted in his career. Of course, he won’t repeat that performance, but any time hitters are walking less against you than Miguel Olivo does in general, you’re doing something right.
RHP Brian Sanches
Interesting Number: 1.87
That was the difference between Sanches’ ERA and his FIP, and I don’t think this difference is repeatable. He has done the same thing two years running, but in those two seasons he has only faced 502 batters, less than a full starter season’s worth. I doubt he is as good as we have seen.
RHP Burke Badenhop
Interesting Number: 5.00
If there is a case to be made as to why the Hopper should not be a starter, it lies in this number. He has a 5.00 FIP (4.83 xFIP) in 386 confrontations against left-handed hitters, and I hear he’ll face a few more of those when he pitches as a starter. He may be the most ROOGY-like of our relievers, but he is a damn good one (3.03 FIP, 3.08 xFIP).