Despite a slump which has seen the Miami Marlins lose seven of their last eight games, the starting rotation has done a good job keeping them in games until late.
It started on Thursday last week, when rookie Pablo Lopez kept the Philadelphia Phillies to one run in his six innings of work, earning a 63 GameScore. After Adam Conley and Drew Steckenrider worked clean innings, Kyle Barraclough blew his sixth save chance of the season and the Marlins fell, 5-2. The next night, Trevor Richards earned a loss despite holding the Phillies to one run over five innings. He struck out seven and allowed only six baserunners.
After Jose Urena slipped up and allowed six runs in five innings on Saturday, Dan Straily took his turn on Sunday and whiffed seven Phillies in 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs (none on homers). Steckenrider was the guilty party in that one, which the Marlins lost, 5-3.
Wei-Yin Chen was brilliant at home on Monday, as is so often the case for him lately. He held the St. Louis Cardinals to one hit and zero runs over 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and earning the victory with a 69 GameScore. Lopez continued the welcome trend last night, holding the Cardinals off the board until a two-run homer in the seventh which tied the game.
First of all, I want to address the elephant in the room, and that’s Wei-Yin Chen’s home/road splits. There’s simply no rhyme or reason to his relative success and failure. According to Ely Sussman at Fish Stripes:
"With most of the 2018 season complete, Chen owns the most extreme home/road splits that have ever been recorded for a major leaguer with his kind of workload. Including Monday night’s gem, he has started nine games apiece at Marlins Park and away from it. These are his results:Home: 1.94 ERA, 51.0 IP, 3 HR, 18 BB, 43 KRoad: 10.27 ERA, 37.2 IP, 11 HR, 18 BB, 23 K"
Also worth noting is Trevor Richards story. Although he has a few starts that were below premium, he has still managed to strike out 78 in 80 1/3 innings over his 16 rotation starts. His meteoric rise from obscurity to major leaguer has been well documented, and I see no reason why his success wouldn’t be sustainable. The only hiccup in Richards’ game, incomprehensibly, is his fourth-inning performance. According to baseballsavant.mlb.com:
Pablo Lopez has a nice four-pitch mix that he uses to keep hitters off balance, and is currently rocking a 1.13 major league WHIP. Five of Lopez’ seven starts have been of the Quality Start variety.
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Urena’s 3-11 record is misleading as well. With a 1.261 WHIP that is the best of his career and a 4.21 FIP nearly a half-run lower than his ERA, Karmicly speaking he should be at least .500.
That leaves Dan Straily. The elder statesman of the bunch, it was widely assumed that he’d be a trade-deadline target for a hungry contender. The deadline passed, and Straily is still throwing for the Marlins. Converse to Urena, Straily’s FIP is over a run higher than his ERA (5.45 to 4.35). In fact, Straily has always benefitted from extraordinary luck in that regard. Over his career, he’s 0.55 runs better than he should be, 4.81 to 4.26.
Miami’s bullpen was lights out for several months this year before breaking down. That is another story entirely, addressed here.
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