The Miami Marlins entered the season with question marks in the starting rotation. After a slow start, the Marlins starters have been putting them in a position to win lately.
When opening day rolled around, everyone thought the Miami Marlins would compete for a wild card spot if the starters were able to deliver the game to the bullpen in the sixth inning. For a time, the narrative played out exactly as predicted.
The Miami Marlins extended slump can be traced back to a rain out in Philadelphia on April 25th. The Fish were 10-8, and while they weren’t lighting the baseball world on fire, they were holding their own each night. Then they hit the wall, and it’s been downhill ever since.
Since that rain out in Philadelphia, the Marlins are 4-17 and have fallen to the bottom of the National League. Injuries to Wei-Yin Chen and Edinson Volquez appeared to be enemy number one. In a spot-start, Odrisamer Despaigne failed to produce a viable outing and the Marlins fell to the Mets.
Marlins starters doing their part
However, the Marlins starting pitching hasn’t been the reason the slump has continued. There’s a number of things you can attribute the continued struggle to: relief pitching, injuries on the infield, clutch hitting. But as it stands, the starting pitching has been plenty good enough to win.
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Edinson Volquez has returned from the blister that caused him to miss a start and has pitched well. In his one start since returning, Volquez pitched six innings and allowed only two earned runs. He struck out five batters and was pulled after throwing 90 pitches; he was going strong and could have gone more if Mattingly wanted him to.
Jose Urena has been everything the Miami Marlins could have reasonably asked him to be. His strikeout totals aren’t high, but he has given the Marlins quality outings him his three starts this season. On Wednesday, he went 5.2 innings and allowed only one earned run against baseballs best team this season, the Houston Astros. With a 1.91 ERA, Urena has been a pleasant surprise.
Justin Nicolino has been called up to the Major League club and impressed in his lone start as well. He pitched against a fairly tame Atlanta lineup, but still managed to go six innings and allow only one run. Nicolino notched one of the Marlins four wins during their extended slump, and will look for another during the Dodgers series.
Dan Straily has been fairly consistent all season. He has come on very strong as of late, allowing only one earned run over his last twelve innings. His last outing appeared to be his best yet, but was abbreviated after he took a liner of his forearm. The injury isn’t serious and he won’t miss his next start.
That means the problem is…
Relief pitching. After aggressively signing players into the pen this offseason, don’t expect any new faces anytime soon. This is the group, and it’s a good one, but they’ll need to discover the source of their inconsistency. The starting pitching will need to continue to do its part.
The Fish have struggled to put together a complete game. Each has brought a different type of problem. The Miami Marlins will need to find a way to succeed in every phase of the game if they have hopes of competing for a playoff spot.