Last night the Miami Marlins announced that right hander Jacob Turner had been promoted and was scheduled to make a start Friday night against the New York Mets. To accommodate Turner, the Marlins optioned Duane Below to Triple-A New Orleans.
The Marlins acquired Turner, along with fellow pitching prospect Brian Flynn, and catching prospect Rob Brantly in a July trade last season, for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The trade was well received at the time by the baseball community, as most saw the trade as a regular deadline trade. Not many quite saw what was going to happen in December nor could they predict it.
Turner had been a well regarded prospect in the Tigers system, listed as the 21st best prospect in baseball by Baseball America and 15th best by MLB.com prior to the 2011 season. Like another big named prospect the Marlins acquired from the Tigers, Andrew Miller, Turner had been rushed to the majors before he was ready.
Turner’s stints with the Tigers in the majors did not fare too well, as he struggled with command, as he walked 11 in just 25 innings of work. After a brief stint in Triple-A New Orleans, the Marlins called Turner up to the majors in late August.
In his time with the Marlins, Turner pitched quite well in the majors. Turner posted a 3.38 ERA and a 3.89 FIP in 42 2/3 innings with the Fish. His strikeout rate jumped from 11.5% with the Tigers to 17.1%, also lowering his walk rates from 11.5% with the Tigers to 5.3% with the Marlins.
After a strong showing in 2012, the Fish were confident that Turner could step into the number two spot in the Marlins rotation and deliver a strong season. Unfortunately, that did not quite way. Turner struggled immensely in Spring Training and the Marlins opted for him to start the season once again in Triple-A.
The struggles for Turner continued into Triple-A, as he has posted a 4.47 ERA and 4.48 FIP in his first 10 starts. Part of the issue with Turner has been a lack of whiffs, even though he has done a solid job of keeping his walks low. Turner has whiffed just 14.5 percent of his batters faced, which was a problem Turner faced when the Marlins acquired him from the Tigers.
Fortunately, as Michael Jong points out on Fishstripes, there could be some positive regression on the way for Turner.
This approach happened to snag a few more pitchers with lower strikeout rates, but the results remained very similar. If Turner were to keep up a 10 percent swinging strike, he could expect a strikeout rate between 19 and 20 percent. Much like last season, Turner’s swinging strike rate predicts a much better performance, and even if Turner is more like Luke Hochevar (17.0 percent strikeout rate) or Ricky Romero (18.1 percent) rather than Ian Kennedy (21.0 percent), he should still do a lot better than the likes of and (14.5 percent).
Also, manager Mike Redmond mentioned that the Marlins have been monitoring Turner closely and feel that he has improved over his past few starts, enough to warrant a promotion.
“He’s been a lot better,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ve all been monitoring how he’s doing. He’s a guy in spring training that we anticipated being in the rotation and it didn’t work out. We’re looking for him to come up and be a spark and take advantage of this opportunity. Hopefully he pounds the strike zone and logs some innings for us and gives us a chance to win.”
Redmond is correct, in his last seven starts, Turner has gone at least six innings and allowed three runs or less. He has walked just nine in his last 39 innings, but he has whiffed just 26 batters in that span and allowed 42 hits.
Turner obviously still has some improvements to make, but he has been pitching better of late. He is going to need to do a better job of limiting the base runners and striking out hitters, but he showed last season he was up to the task.
Also, he cannot be any worse than Alex Sanabia, right?
My prediction for Turner’s line tonight: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO. What kind of line do you guys expect Turner to post tonight?