Miami Marlins 2014 Review: Tom Koehler


Tom Koehler: C+

Tom Koehler in his second MLB season certainly established himself as a legitimate big league starting pitcher. He showed flashes of greatness and was definitely a workhorse, making the second-most starts on the team (32) behind Nathan Eovaldi (33) and second-most innings (191.1) to Eovaldi’s 199.2.

But when all was said and done, the numbers pointed to him being a relatively average, bottom-of-the-rotation hurler. In fact, the 28 year-old posted a 100 ERA+. That’s not a bad thing; every team needs number four and five starters to log innings and keep games within reach for the offense. Not every starter is Jose Fernandez.

Personally, I was skeptical when the Marlins handed Koehler a rotation spot out of Spring Training. He was a 0.8 WAR player in 23 starts in 2013, his first real taste of the big leagues, where he posted a 4.41 ERA, 4.27 FIP and 88 ERA+.

But Koehler made strides in 2014, cutting his ERA by over a half-run to 3.81 and his FIP to 3.84. He struck out 153 hitters in those 191.1 frames and allowed fewer than one hit per inning (177). That’s good for a 7.2 K/9 rate, a significant improvement over the 5.8 he posted in 2013. That mark was the best of any Marlins starter this season.

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Baseball Reference pegged Koehler as a 2.5 WAR pitcher on the year. What you saw was what you got from Tom Koehler. He was a solid if unspectacular innings-eater who completed at least five innings in 30 of 32 starts and kept base runners at a respectable rate with a 1.296 WHIP. His workload helped save the bullpen more often than not.

The question moving forward will be if Koehler will remain in the rotation or shift to the bullpen, as the Marlins will be actively shopping for an impact starting pitcher this offseason. With Jose Fernandez not expected back until mid-season, Koehler could be a candidate for a rotation spot behind Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart and Eovaldi. He obviously has the stamina to pitch multiple innings if needed, but his improved strikeout rate could render him an effective back of the bullpen arm depending on what signings the team makes.

What do you think of our grade for Tom Koehler, Marlins fans? Let us know in the comments below!