Should the Miami Marlins be concerned with Junichi Tazawa?
A big question has been the performance of the Miami Marlins bullpen, more specifically Junichi Tazawa, should we be concerned?
One of the strengths of the Miami Marlins coming into this season was supposed to be the bullpen. With some young guys in Kyle Barraclough, Nick Wittgren, and A.J. Ramos all taking steps forward last year.
Along with some veterans (David Phelps, and Dustin McGowan), the bullpen was a one or two guys short of being one of the best in baseball. So the Marlins made an effort to strengthen the pen in the off-season by signing Brad Ziegler, and Junichi Tazawa.
Both guys have had strong Major Leagues career, while being used in stressful situations. So far, two weeks into the season, Ziegler has been exceptional being used in primarily a 7th inning role. Tazawa on the other hand, has fallen well short of expectations, and we’re only two weeks in.
So what’s the issue?
The big concern has been him giving up three costly home runs in only 5 innings of play. These home runs stem from Tazawa’s ability to get ahead in the count, while keeping the ball down. Like many Japanese pitchers, his go to out pitch is the splitter, which usually gets buried in the dirt.
The problem is when your fastball and secondary pitches are all up in the zone, it allows the hitter to layoff the splitter realizing that it’s indeed the splitter.
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Another problem is when a hitter is ahead in the count 2-0 or 3-1, he’s going to lay off the low splitter and swing for the fence on the thigh high fastball, which has resulted in the homers.
With Tazawa though, you have a veteran who has some very good years in hitter’s friendly Fenway Park. He also has “good stuff”, so the hope is that he’ll figure out his command and string together some good, consistent outings.
However, in years past, the Marlins have had such veterans in the pen that could designate for assignment rather quickly due to either one year or minor league contracts.
According to spottrac.com, though, Tazawa is supposed to make five million this year, along with seven million next year with all of it being guaranteed.
Which simply means that he will be definitely be staying put this year. We will also have a good chance of seeing Tazawa next year as well, barring something drastic. The Marlins would prefer not to designate him or trade him away and pay him to play somewhere else.
The early season troubles are concerning and leave some doubt, but there is reason to stay optimistic and hold out hope due to his veteran track record.