Miami Marlins 2012 Season Preview: The Ace

We have wrapped up the Miami Marlins‘ starting lineup last week. Now it is time to the move to the team’s starting rotation in 2012. If the Marlins want to contend in 2012, the club’s rotation is going to play a critical role in making that happen. Of all the pitchers in the rotation, Johnson is going to be the most important. If Josh Johnson can stay healthy, the Marlins have one of the primer rotations in all of baseball. If Johnson’s checkered past with injuries holds him out for any significant time in 2012, the Marlins will be a in world of trouble.

Rotation

  1. Josh Johnson

March 25, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during their spring training game at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Last season, Johnson got off to a very fast start and the Marlins were looking like a top team. In his 60 1/3 innings, Johnson posted a 1.64 ERA with an impressive 2.64 FIP. A lot of the low ERA had to do with a extremely low BABIP of .239, of course. His FIP was a better measure of how well he was pitching, and that still was impressive.

A look at Johnson’s periphials show that he was on his way to post a very strong season once again.

Johnson, Year K% BB% HR/FB% GB%
2011 23.9 8.6 3.8 51.0
2010 25.0 6.5 4.2 45.7
2009 22.3 6.8 7.5 50.3
Three-Year 23.6 6.9 5.7 48.5

Johnson was walking more hitters then usual last season, but with more innings pitched, it is very likely he would have lowered that number. Everything else seemed to be right in line with what he was doing the two previous seasons.

The only major difference between the prior two seasons and the season JJ was having in 2011 was his low BABIP. Even when that would regress to his career BABIP of .295, Johnson would still be on his way to another near CY Young level type of performance.

Here is a look at some projections for Josh Johnson in 2012.

 

Projection IP ERA FIP BABIP K% BB% GS
ZiPS 128 2/3 2.66 2.71 .296 23.1 6.6 20
PECOTA 187 2/3 3.20 2.85 .374 21.9 7.0 29
Fans 175 2.68 2.81 .298 23.0 7.0 27

March 25, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Josh Johnson (55) in the dugout after he pitched during their spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

 

ZiPS is not projections JJ to be able to pitch for the entire season. This is the worst case scenario that the Marlins do not want at all. ZiPS does have him posting a very strong season before he misses time with the Marlins.  In fact, ZiPS has JJ posting the best peripherals of the three projections. If he can extend that over a full season, baseball fans, watch out for the Marlins.

The Fans are very close statistically to the projection of ZiPS. They are also more optimistic that Johnson can stay healthy throughout the course of the season. As for PECOTA, they near the ideal number of innings the Marlins want and need from Josh Johnson in order for the team to do well in 2012.

Overall, all three projections have Johnson posting healthy stats if he can just stay away from the disabled list.

Now we will take a look at my projections for JJ in 2012

 

Projection IP ERA FIP BABIP K% BB% GS
150 2.75 2.71 .296 23.1 6.6 23

 

With my projections, I have Josh Johnson posting a 4.5 WAR. I have him making 23 starts, which likely means he misses about 7 starts here and there. I had Jose Reyes posting a 4.8 WAR. So Josh Johnson is a very important piece to the puzzle for the Marlins in 2012.

In the case that Johnson does have to miss some starts, the likely candidates to take his spot would be Wade LeBlanc and Alex Sanabia. They are in line to be the Marlins 6th and 7th starters. If those two can fill in for Johnson and avoid pitching poorly, the Marlins can get by in 2012 pretty well.

Now the dream scenario for the Marlins is that Johnson makes 30 starts and goes 200+ innings. Johnson would have about a 5.4 WAR if he were able to produce like that. That would be the ideal situation for the Marlins.

The situation that the Marlins do not want is the one similar to last season, where Johnson only goes 60 innings again and posts a similar 1.7 WAR as last season. The Marlins would be left scrambling to make up his innings. LeBlanc and Sanabia would become less viable options at this point and the Marlins would likely start to scour the trade market to get a decent pitcher to fill JJ’s void.

Lets hope the Marlins can get closer to PECOTA’s projections or 200 innings and the Marlins will be fine.

Topics: Alex Sanabia, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Miami Marlins, Wade LeBlanc

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