By Alex Agueros
No team ends the season with the same rotation they started with. Good teams try to improve through trades, bad teams will give young arms a chance down the stretch, and every team will work around injuries. Given the tattered state of the Marlins rotation, 2013 may see an even more flexible rotation than normal. Here are the rotations we could see throughout the season.
Nolasco is your 2013 Marlins opening day starter. April 1st, 2013, at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. he’ll match wits in a pitcher’s duel against Stephen Strasburg.
The past two years, Nolasco has been striking out less people and giving up more hits. The spacious outfield of Marlins Park has turned Ricky’s old home run problem into a base hit problem. Being a fly-ball guy at Marlins Park isn’t a terrible thing, but paying attention to his home/away splits should be interesting this summer. Nolasco’s excellent control will limit his walks, so he should be an efficient #3-type innings eater anchoring a young Marlins rotation.
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
It should be noted that Nolasco would “prefer to be dealt.” The Marlins have since told teams he won’t be traded… so I predict Nolasco is moved sometime mid-season.
There are a couple things I’m looking forward to watching this season: Giancarlo dingers, Hechavarria’s glovework at short, and a few young pitchers panning out. Turner is one of those pitchers. The former top Tigers prospect was given the Detroit prospect treatment and was immediately rushed into the majors before coming to Miami in the Sanchez/Infante deal.
Turner has always had good control through the minors, and showed it in 2012. Turner will live and die by the trust in his fastball. A Baseball Prospectus report from nearly two years ago suggests he should trust his secondary stuff leading to more punchouts and less hits. Watching Turner’s pitching strategy mature should be fun in 2013.
Acquired in the trade so polarizing we now just call it “The Trade,” Alvarez hopes to rebound from an ugly 2012. He’s always been a ground ball guy, but last season saw his walk rate make a considerable leap, rendering his pitch-to-contact strategy pretty useless.
Even when he’s not walking people, Alvarez is the ground-ball version of Nolasco with some room to grow.
LeBlanc is a typical “four-A” guy. Someone who’s split starts between AAA and the major leagues since 2008 and has kept his ERA around 4.00 his whole career. Wade’s upside is a blank slate on his injury reports and averaging a little less than 150 IP per year since his first call to the majors. LeBlanc’s value will be decided by how many of those 150 innings are spent with Miami, rather than New Orleans.
Nathan Eovaldi: Not a bullpen arm I guess
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Nate is another Marlin who blazed through another team’s system and wound up in Miami through the trading of an infielder. This time, it was the Hanley trade that landed him here. Eovaldi’s inexperience showed in Los Angeles, where he got in high pitch-counts without getting deep into the game.
In a perfect world, Eovaldi could be a valuable arm in the bullpen with his fastball/slider combo. But on this Marlins team, we’re hoping his curveball can develop and contribute games like these as opposed to these.
Brad Hand and Tom Koehler
These two guys ate up the most innings out of the starters in New Orleans (AAA) and may get a spot start or a call in case of injury. Brad Hand’s major league career has seen the exact same number of strikeouts as walks which would be a really cool thing if it wasn’t so discouraging baseball-wise. Tom Keohler is a 26-year old version of Hand, posting uninspiring BB% and K% that both hover around 10%.
Post All-Star Break:
I expect the unhappy Nolasco to be traded by the deadline. Some rumors claim he’s sticking around because Giancarlo would be even more upset seeing his friend leave, but it would be senseless to decline a team willing to deal prospects for Nolasco.
So between Eovaldi and Turner, Fernandez is the last young pitcher I am hyped to see in a Marlin uniform. Fernandez topped both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus’ Marlins prospect lists. His great secondary stuff along with his heavy fastball has quickly made Fernandez a top minor league arm. Scouting reports also claim Fernandez works with a confident, sometimes cocky, demeanor on the mound. Personally, I feel a talented, arrogant young kid will be great fun to root for, especially if he lives up to his lofty expectations.
It’s important to note that his expected minor league stint is more about developing his “pitchability” and not to see if he can mow down AAA talent. I won’t totally disregard his stats in the minors in 2013, but keep in mind he should be refining his pitching strategy and sequence as opposed to winning games.
Future of the staff thy name is Jose
Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Last Day of the Season:
Justin Nicolino or Andrew Heaney
I’m not sure what pitcher from the second list won’t be pitching by now, but that’s how the season goes. Luckily, the Marlins by now will have even more young pitchers in their systems that have had time to develop over the season. Heaney, last year’s first round draft pick may be a long shot, but in a rotation that features LeBlanc as the only lefty he may be favored over another arm. Nicolino, of the “The Trade” trade, is also a lefty and is scouted as a “crafty” pitcher according to BA and BP. His craftiness may outsmart minor league bats, resulting in attractive numbers warranting a promotion.
The Marlins have no business rushing any prospects, and predicting these rotations is like forecasting the weather a couple months in advance. But over this season, while sitting through a long Henderson Alvarez shelling, remember you can confide hope into the fact that help is (probably) on the way.