Jun 29, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jacob Turner (33) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the San Diego Padres at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
2013 Marlins: June Team Review
Part II: The Pitching
As always batting is only half the story. In an earlier article, I wrote how Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi returning to the rotation would contribute to the Marlins climb away from replacement level. May was not the only the lowest point for the Marlins offensively, pitching was also a problem for the team. In May Marlins team ERA and FIP were higher than in June and than can easily be attributed to Kevin Slowey‘s bad starts as well as Alex Sanabia, Wade LeBlanc and Tom Koehler playing their parts in bringing the rotation WAR down and the ERA up.
The lower ERA, FIP, FIP- and walk rate in June are signs that the rotation and the staff was improving. The arrival of Turner and Eovaldi the Marlins rotation came closer to legitimacy as an asset. Fernandez, Turner and Eovaldi are the core of a quality for the future and June was the beginning of that era.
The role of pitching can best be defined as run prevention and in that aspect the Marlins rotation was exceptionally unremarkable in their mediocrity in June with a 3.87 ERA and a 3.83 FIP and 2 WAR. The Marlins have a young and talented rotation with a bright future and June showed that. Fernandez, Turner and Eovaldi even this early in their careers can be keys to making a winning team.
Something else that can’t be underestimated is how much the bullpen’s performance contributed to the Marlins success in June. Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings and Kevin Slowey were the keys to the Marlins bullpen’s performance. Cishek only had one blown save in 10 opportunities in June, with 29.3/2.4 KK/B ratio, a 2.38 FIP and .154 opposing wOBA. The most marked statistic is that Cishek stranded 100% of base-runners in June.
Kevin Slowey’s performance in extra innings in Citi Field during the 20 inning Marlins win also massively influences the bullpen’s acumen for June, but that game will not be underestimated in the long run as a moment when the Marlins season turned around. Largely thanks to Slowey’s massive turn as a long reliever that gave the Marlins a chance to win the game.
The Marlins pitching improved from May to June, but it was never the team’s weakest aspect. Cishek was able to have more save opportunities because the offense was winning games for the team. I don’t want to discount the importance of what the pitching has done but ultimately what the Marlins needed was better offense. That was the key to the Marlins success in June.
Can the Marlins keep this up? Most likely not, the Marlins will probably not have another 15 win month this season. But what they can do from now is no longer have the kinds of experiences and results from April and May, a 8 and 6 win month respectively. Today the Marlins are 30-51, 21 games under .500, 17.5 games behind the Braves and have a better winning percentage than the Houston Astros at .370. At the half way point of the season they have 30 wins if they were to go .500 from now on the Marlins would win 70 games – one more than last year – I for one would be happy with that.
More importantly what June showed was the blueprint for the future is solid. That the young talent can at some future point come together to make a legitimate run at contention if not the World Series. The future is bright and June was the first spark of that fire.