Long Relievers Saving the Day

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Sep 22, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Jose Urena (62) delivers a pitch in the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 22, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Jose Urena (62) delivers a pitch in the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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The strategy for the Miami Marlins coming into the 2017 season was based on a strong bullpen. There have been a few key contributors to that strategy to start the season.

We are now one month into the season and the Miami Marlins‘ bullpen has been getting what they were promised. In the offseason it was decided that starters would get work to carry the team early and the bullpen would carry the team through the end.

We have seen that plan go to the most extreme of extremes. While the starting five have not quite lived up to their part of the deal. The bullpen has far exceeded, in most cases, what the deal entailed.

Sure, there have been troublesome games for the relievers, but, for the most part, they have been superb. This work could not be done without some of the key innings eaters for the Fish.

Whether it has been coming in during a blowout to pitch multiple innings or acting as a bridge to the remaining depth of the pen, there have been two standouts for the Fish.

Eat Those Innings

We have only seen Jose Urena come into four games this season, but he has been very effective and very useful during those games. Minus his first appearance of the season, Urena has pitched no fewer than three innings an outing.

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During that time he has given up four runs. However, until his outing against Pittsburgh, when everything was being hit, Urena had only allowed four hits.

That isn’t bad at all for a converted starter. We saw this same approach last season with David Phelps before he was transitioned into a setup role for the Fish. Urena, a middling starter, jumps to an extraordinary reliever once he is able to go full throttle.

Knowing that he won’t have to be in a game for six or seven innings, we are able to see Urena’s true velocity potential as he averages 96 MPH on his fastball. We may finally be seeing Urena’s true calling as a long option relief pitcher.

Dustin McGowan has been right up there with Urena as well. While not pitching the same number of innings per outing, McGowan has been utilized quite a bit out of the pen. The only reliever to pitch more innings this season for the Fish has been Phelps.

McGowan, aside from a few hiccups against the Mariners and Phillies, has been lights out. Those two games accounted for the only runs that McGowan has allowed this season as he has pitched in a total of 13 innings.

The Hutch Award winner has been a huge contributor to the Marlins bullpen this season. McGowan will likely continue to do so throughout the season.

Next: Reminder That It Could Always Be Worse

The Marlins will continue to lean heavily on the bullpen as their starters continue to struggle in finding their stride.

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