Feb 27 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: Miami Marlins pitcher Wade LeBlanc (23) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

Miami Marlins 2012 Season Preview: The Bullpen


Depending on Juan Oviedo‘s immigration status, the Miami Marlins 2012 bullpen could already be set. Oviedo who is still battling VISA issues after admitting he had been playing under an assumed name of Leo Nunez, has yet to be cleared to return to the USA. When he does return, the Marlins believe that the MLB will step in and suspend Oviedo for lying about his name.

Sept. 21, 2011; Miami, FL, USA; Florida Marlins relief pitcher Leo Nunez (46) throws against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning at Sun Life Stadium. The Marlins won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

A question that remains about the Marlins bullpen is how many people will be in the bullpen. The Marlins could carry just 12 hitters, meaning they would have 8 pitchers in the bullpen. If the Marlins decide they want to carry the usual 13 batters, then there will be 7 pitchers in the pen.

The pitchers that already have a role locked up in the Marlins 2012 bullpen are the following:

That is already 6 bullpen spots accounted for. The competition could be either for one or two spots depending on the Marlins decision of how many batters and pitchers they want to carry.

I have always been a believer in carrying an extra pitcher. You always want to be safe, not sorry when it comes to the amount of pitching you carry. Injuries are a major problem for pitchers all the time. The Marlins have been especially unlucky in this matter, it feels like.

Under the assumption that the Marlins decide to carry 13 hitters, as most teams do all the time, lets take a look at how the bullpen competition should shake out.

The Marlins would likely to be seeking to fill the long-relief role that has been vacated since Burke Badenhop was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Here are the candidates that will look to win a chance to have that role.

Chad Gaudin

Feb 27 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: Miami Marlins pitcher Chad Gaudin (57) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

Gaudin has played eight Major Leagues teams over his career, including six in the past five years, if he makes the Marlins out of Spring Training. Gaudin is actually familiar with a lot of current Marlins:

“I played with Wade LeBlanc in San Diego,” begins Gaudin, starting to his left and continuing clockwise.

“I played with Heath Bell in San Diego.

“I played with Mike Dunn in New York.

“I played with Carlos Zambrano in Chicago.

“I played with J.D. Martin in Washington.

“I played with Robert Ray in Toronto.

“I played with Donnie Murphy in Oakland.

“I played with Anibal Sanchez in Venezuela.

“I played with Austin Kearns in New York.

He pauses for a moment, scans the room again, and discovers several more former teammates he missed on the first pass.

“We’re not done yet,” Gaudin said before reeling off the names of a few more players and their former teams.

Gaudin has plenty of Major League experience that he brings to the Marlins. Gaudin has 268 Major League appearances, including 75 career starts. He would be the perfect candidate to make a spot start out of the bullpen if the Marlins ever had to skip a pitchers start.
Gaudin, just 28-years old, has a career ERA of 4.63 and a career FIP of 4.68. His numbers are not going to jump off of the page, but he is a perfect candidate for a Marlins reclamation reliever for a year, then they let him move on.

Wade LeBlanc:

The Marlins acquired LeBlanc from the San Diego Padres for catcher John Baker. LeBlanc, like Gaudin has experience both starting and relieving. Although, most of LeBlanc’s experience in the Majors has been as a starter (52 of 54 MLB appearances as a starter).

LeBlanc, like Gaudin brings minimal eye popping stats. LeBlanc has been unspectacular as a starter, to say the least. If he was starting for the Marlins, fans would literally be screaming for the Marlins to bring Chris Volstad back. Yes, that is bad!

LeBlanc seems to me to be another LOGGY, like Choate. Over his career, LeBlanc has had a lot more success against lefties then righties, although he has not been too successful either way. I would not count out LeBlanc, but he does not seem to me to be the best option. He would be more useful for the Marlins being in Triple-A and making spot starts when needed to.

 

Alex Sanabia:

Feb 27 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: Miami Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia (59) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

Sanabia might have played a major role in the Marlins rotation in 2011 if it had not been for an elbow injury. Sanabia missed most of the 2011 season, but did make a comeback towards the end of the season.

In 2010, Sanabia made his first 15 major league appearances. This included starting 12 games and going 5-3 with a 3.73 ERA, 16 walks and 47 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. Sanabia posted a FIP of 3.65 in those starts, further providing proof he belonged in the Majors.

I expect Sanabia to start the season in Triple-A and work as a starter. He could potentially fill a role on the Major League rotation if Josh Johnson goes down with an injury or Carlos Zambrano implodes again.

 

Evan Reed:

Feb 24, 2012; Jupiter FL, USA; Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (center) watches pitcher Evan Reed (right) throws during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Reed was acquire by the Marlins in a trade with the Texas Rangers at the 2010 trade deadline for Jorge Cantu. Reed pitched one game for the Marlins before suffering an elbow injury. Reed had Tommy John Surgery and is expected to be 100% during Spring Training.

Reed has no MLB experience and would be a long shot in my estimate to make the team. Although Ozzie Guillen has been impressed so far by the right hander.

 

Sean West:

Feb 27 2012, Jupiter, FL, USA: Miami Marlins pitcher Sean West (45) during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE.

The last name I would throw out there is Sean West. West is out of options with the Marlins and this Spring is literally make or break for West. As I mentioned in a piece earlier, West’s arm is feeling as good as it has ever for him. Of all the pitchers on this list, West has the highest upside.

If I were rooting for a pitcher in particular, it has to be Sean West. I have liked him since he became a Marlin and the Marlins really need a pitcher from the 2005 first round to step up. West is their last remaining hope.

 

The Marlins have a lot of depth this Spring Training in terms of pitching options. Just because one of these guys does not make the team does not mean the Marlins will not need them.

In fact, Marlins recent history has shown that you need as much depth as possible. You can never have too much pitching. There is no way the Marlins will go an entire season with just 12 or 13 pitchers. The team will have pitchers land on the DL, pitchers miss starts, there may even be some rain delays, just not in Miami!

The names I listed, minus Sean West, should be names that could make an impact at some point with the Marlins if they do not make the team. Unlike last season, the Marlins actually have the depth in case of an injury.

Only, the Marlins cannot afford lose Josh Johnson. He is irreplaceable.

Tags: Alex Sanabia Anibal Sanchez Austin Kearns Burke Badenhop Carlos Zambrano Chad Guadin Chris Volstad Donnie Murphy Edward Mujica Evan Reed Featured Heath Bell J.D. Martin John Baker Jorge Cantu Josh Johnson Juan Oviedo Miami Marlins Michael Dunn Ozzie Guillen Randy Choate Robert Ray Ryan Webb San Diego Padres Sean West Steve Cishek Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers Wade LeBlanc