Taking a Closer Look at Dontrelle Willis’ Sobering Assessment
The Miami Marlins received some unsolicited advice from former franchise star Dontrelle Willis. But just because it was unsolicited, doesn’t mean it’s not true.
The Miami Marlins currently sit three games under-five hundred; 12-15. After getting out to an 11-8 start through the first three weeks of the season, the Marlins stumbled to close out the month of April. Their struggles have continued through the early part of May.
Much of the difficulty the Marlins are experiencing can be traced back to the dearth in the starting rotation.
An area of concern before the season began, league play has only confirmed what the team already knew, they lack a true number one pitcher.
Dontrelle Willis prefers the term “bulldog”.
The left-hander with the funky delivery is as close to being Marlins royalty as anyone. After breaking in to the major league level in 2003, Willis was an integral part in the magical World Series run. Because of his strong performance, Willis was able to capture Rookie of the Year honors. In 2005, he finished second in Cy Young voting.
That’s part of the reason it stings so much, even if it is a fairly obvious observation. The Marlins are in need of a top tier pitcher, or bulldog.
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A pitcher, who every five days, can stop any bleeding before it gets out of hand. There used to be one, and that’s what this tweet points out more than anything.
The part of the Jose Fernandez tragedy that has been talked about the least (surprisingly/refreshingly), is the way it has effected the Miami Marlins roster.
The Marlins now lack an ace in their rotation, but that is a reflection of patchwork, off-season scrambling, not design.
With a no real options for top-of-the-rotation starters to choose from this off-season, the Marlins chose to counter by signing Edinson Volquez and Dan Straily, and a number of above-average arms for the bullpen. Jeff Locke, Junichi Tazawa, and Brad Ziegler were expected to help carry the load that remained.
Taking the approach that the 2015 Kansas City Royals took. The Marlins hopped they’d be able to get serviceable years from their starting five, and have an elite bullpen to bridge the gap. Pairing the incoming talent in the pen with A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough, they took a “strength in numbers” tactic.
Too Soon to Worry?
At 12-15, it would be unfair to already say that it isn’t working out. It’s still early, and the Marlins could be experiencing an ebb in the flow of the marathon baseball season.
With a lineup of hitters that can be explosive on any given night, the onus is on the offense to put up crooked numbers on a nightly basis.
If the Marlins are able to remain competitive, staying reasonably within striking distance of a wild-card spot, they’ll have options at the trade deadline.
With the farm system mostly depleted, it might take a complete gutting of what is left on the farm to snag a marginal contributor to push for the playoffs.
Looking forward, though, a number of pitchers will be hitting the free agent market at the end of this year.
With new ownership on the way, the Marlins will likely be looking to snag some of the big names that could be available: Jake Arrieta, Trevor Cahill, Jeremy Hellickson, to name a few.
The truth of the matter is that Willis was on the nose about his assessment of the Marlins. And while he doesn’t offer any concrete solutions to the problem beyond someone needing to “step up and say enough is enough”. He only had a140 characters to tweet with.
Next: Miami Marlins Fish Flash 5/5
The future is bright for the Fish if their starting pitchers can manage to go six innings on a regular basis, then hand the ball off to a potentially elite bullpen.