Ineffectiveness the least of Miami Marlins bullpen concerns

Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports /

The ineffectiveness that has plagued the Miami Marlins bullpen is apparent. But there lurks a greater danger for the overworked group.

The bullpen was supposed to be the bedrock which the Miami Marlins relied on throughout the season. Less than two months in, the plan is proving to be flawed. The bullpen has struggled to keep a lead when it is handed one, and struggled to keep a game close when behind.

While not the only factor in the Marlins early season struggles, it has frustrated everyone to no end. After last nights 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Houston Astros, tough times lay ahead for the Marlins west coast road trip.

Tom Koehler struggled to find any consistency, and the Astros jumped on him early. Swinging at the first four pitches that Koehler threw, they were seeing the ball out of his hand clearly. It turned out to be an abbreviated night for Koehler, who only lasted three innings and surrendered eight runs.

That meant a long night of work for the bullpen. Mattingly hasn’t asked any of his starters to go too deep into the game this season. In fact, several times throughout the year he has pulled players in the sixth or seventh inning while fatigue still appeared to be a long way off.

After last night, he might have to change his strategy around for the rest of the week.

The bullpen is overworked

Overworked and underperforming, a combination that spells trouble 100% of the time. The Miami Marlins are now in desperate need of deep outings from their starters. The bullpen was asked to eat six long innings last night, and they don’t have the firepower to do it again.

The Fish used four relievers in a losing effort. Nick Wittgren pitched 2.2 innings, Jarlin Garcia, Dustin McGowan, and David Phelps each went one inning. Jose Urena gets the start tonight, and he’ll need to eat a lot of innings to give the bullpen a break. With A.J. Ramos on full rest, eight innings from Jose Urena would be ideal.

This leads to another question, has the bullpen been ineffective as a result of being asked to do too much? Not lately.

The Miami Marlins have been getting quality starts from their rotation lately, with last night being an exception. In the games preceding, Dan Straily, Justin Nicolino, Edinson Volquez, and Urena were all effective in their starts.

Earlier in the season, it was night after night that the bullpen was being asked to come in and mop up games that were already out of hand. There may be some residual effects from those starts, but after one full turn through the rotation, they should have been at full strength already.

The Fish have several leaks that are feeding into each other collectively. It seems, at least for the time being, that they’ve solved their starting pitching issues. Nicolino and Urena have pitched very well, though their 2017 sample size is limited.

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After the bullpen was taxed to capacity last night, look for Don Mattingly to give Urena a long leash today. He’ll stay in the game as long as he is pitching well tonight.