Miami Marlins first half report card: Bullpen

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MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 11: The Miami Marlins bullpen runs onto the field after a close pitch from Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers to Reed Johnson of the Miami Marlins at Miller Park on September 11, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 11: The Miami Marlins bullpen runs onto the field after a close pitch from Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers to Reed Johnson of the Miami Marlins at Miller Park on September 11, 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images) /
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What was considered to be the strength of the team heading into the season has underperformed. A microcosm of the first half, they’ve been wildly erratic.

The Miami Marlins were tasked with attempting to retool the team at the start of the offseason. Because of the direct correlation, it is impossible to omit the fact that these personnel moves were the result of Jose Fernandez‘s passing.

There weren’t any elite starting arms reasonably available to the Fish this offseason. As such, they decided to try and “bullpen” the bulk of the innings this season. Turns out a strategy that is viable in the postseason doesn’t translate well to the regular season.

The bullpen hasn’t lived up to expectations. And with a starting rotational that was suspect to begin with, the Fish have beaten themselves most nights.

Most vexing is the way the bullpen has fluctuated. They haven’t been consistently poor, but they’ve been poor when you least expect. Or when you most expect it. And when you medium expect. it It’s been impossible to expect what to expect.

Miami’s bullpen is doing a good job keep hitters off balance, and are averaging nearly a strikeout per inning. But they’ve also walked way too many batters, and as a group they hold a 1.401 WHIP. That’ll largely explain how they arrived at a 4.10 ERA as a unit.

They’ve also struggled to keep inherited runners off the bases. Going into the break, the Miami Marlins bullpen has allowed 42 inherited runners to cross the plate. That’s good for third most in the National League.

The signings of Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa were silver medal’s for the offseason to start with. The team attempted but failed to bring any of the big name relievers on the market to Miami. They might have been better off saving their dough.

Not all their fault

You can fault the bullpen for their self-inflicted woes, but not beyond reason. They’ve been flat overworked this season. The Miami Marlins starting rotation has been the least effective unit in the entire organization. The bullpen has paid for their difficulties.

Miami Marlins relievers have made 311 entrances this year, most in Major League Baseball. They’ve swallowed 327 innings in that time, and have made an appearance in all but one game this year.

At times, particularly in the month of May, they looked gassed before even throwing a pitch.

Much like injuries elsewhere on the roster, the bullpen has been afflicted with the busted-up bugaboo. Both marquee signings, Tazawa and Ziegler, have spent significant portions of time of the disabled list.

Part of their struggles stem from the fact that they’re being run into the ground.

Next: Miami Marlins report card: Starting rotation

Bullpen first half grade: C

The bullpen hasn’t been as bad as the starting rotation, but they’ve haven’t been a revelation either. They’ve hit rocky patches several times this season, and have appeared lost in knowing how to get out of them.

It doesn’t all fall on their shoulders, though. They’ve been overworked, which has led to injuries and ineffectiveness.

There is hope for this unit moving towards the future, with encouraging developments from rookies Jarlin Garcia and Drew Steckenrider. But the starting staff will have to help shoulder the load.

They’ve bullpen has been average this year, all things considered.

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