Just for kicks: Keeping Odrisamer Despaigne in the rotation

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 31: Odrisamer Despaigne
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 31: Odrisamer Despaigne /

The Miami Marlins dropped another game to the Washington Nationals. It was no fault of Tuesday’s starter Odrisamer Despaigne.

September hasn’t gotten off to the kind of start the Miami Marlins were hoping for. To capitalize on their already slim playoff chances, they were going to need to have a near perfect month. They haven’t, and they open Wednesday morning four games under .500.

With a patchwork starting rotation, the Miami Marlins handed the ball to Cuban righty Odrisamer Despaigne. He’s been ineffective for most of the season, but you know what? He was pretty darn good on Tuesday night. It was his best start of the season.

There isn’t anymore rotation help heading the Marlins way this season, so why not keep giving Despaigne the ball?

The obvious answer is that he isn’t very good. At least not often enough. The fact that he is starting for the Marlins at all is an indication of what the starting pitching situation is like. But with few options elsewhere, what have the Marlins to lose?

To be sure, Despaigne’s first start this season did not go well. Part of the seasons worst month, Despaigne lasted on 4.2 innings in a May 6th start. He surrendered five hits, three earned runs, and five unearned runs. The Marlins weren’t impressed, and they sent him back down.

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Lackluster lore says the Marlins wanted to see him “attack hitters more”. He worked on it, got called back up (mostly because of need), and eventually got another start. Nearly four months later, Despaigne was toeing the rubber in the first inning for the Fish again.

Not great, but good

According to Fangraphs, Despaigne’s game score of 61 was “good”. He held the San Diego Padres to one run on three hits over six innings. He walked two batters and struck out one. Notably, it was his best start since pitching for the Padres against the Marlins in 2015.

He regressed in his next start, throwing only four innings and posting a game score of 41. Better than his first out, but 20-points worse than his previous one. Need necessitated giving him another start on Tuesday against the Nationals.

Despaigne was “good” again. In fact, he was a little bit better than his first time. His seven inning performance netted him a game score of 63.

If you’re willing to overlook the start he made in May, Despaigne has an average game score of 55 as a starter since joining the rotation. For reference, fellow spot starter Vance Worley has an average game score of 43 since joining the rotation with regularity.

And that’s ultimately what this comes down to, isn’t it? The Marlins appear ready to transition Justin Nicolino into the bullpen fulltime, and Jarlin Garcia probably won’t be making a start this season either. Wei-Yin Chen might get a start at some point, but it’s anybody’s guess when.

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It comes down to Worley or Despaigne. Neither option is spectacular, but Despaigne has pitched better recently. Holding the division leader to only one run over seven innings is no small task, and he likely earned himself another start for his effort.