After five games to start the 2019 major league season, the Miami Marlins sit at 2-3, just about where they’ve been projected, that is, winners about 40 percent of the time.
There are a lot of metrics to measure the Miami Marlins pitching performance. There are the old standbys: win-loss record, ERA, total strikeouts. There are the “basic” advanced stats: WHIP, K/BB, FIP. There are also more “total” advanced stats, which attempt to sum up a players performance in one easy number, such as ERA+, WAR, and WE.
After this first time through the rotation, we’re going to concentrate on the Win Expectancy statistic. This is a stat that serves to weigh a player’s contribution relative to the games possible future projected outcome, and that player’s performance moving the needle to the left or the right. We’ll start with the best.
Sandy Alcántara: WE .409
Alcántara had the undisputed best start of the first time through the rotation. His start, eight innings, was easily the longest, and he was the only starter to log both a Quality Start and a victory.
Alcántara’s great day, in his seventh career major league start, would see him post a career-high 80 GameScore, with six strikeouts against four hits. He kept the Colorado Rockies scoreless, and walked zero batters while placing 66-of-92 offerings between the wickets. He also added a base hit over his three plate appearances.
I had initial misgivings about Alcántara and his well-documented control problems: 6.2 walks allowed per nine innings over his first two major league seasons, and a mark of 6.5 in the same metric through 2019 Spring Training. I was of the mind that the Miami Marlins should have started him with the New Orleans Baby Cakes to start the season, and keep Dan Straily in the rotation for the short-term. That did not come to pass, and after one turn, it looks like the right call.
But stay tuned – it’s a very long season. For now let’s go with carefully controlled optimism. Alcántara could be fully ready.
Trevor Richards: WE .147
Richards started his 26th career major league game on March 29th, in the Miami Marlins 6-1 loss to the Rockies. He earned no-decision in keeping Miami close through his six innings of work, and earned the only other Quality Start aside from Alcántara’s sparkling performance.
Richards posted a 62 GameScore and struck out four while allowing only one run on four hits and a pair of walks. He put 52-of-81 over the plate, and left the game with the two clubs tied at one run apiece. Only after he left did the bullpen fall apart.
Caleb Smith: WE .007
Smith’s first major league non-Spring Training start in over nine months has to be considered a relative success. Smith collected eight strikeouts in five innings of work, and surrendered two runs on four hits and a walk.
This was Smith’s 19 career start, and his 58 GameScore ranks somewhere just above the middle (it was his eighth best game when measured by this metric). He put 52-of-87 in the strike zone, and left with the score tied at two. Later in the game, the umpires made a terrible call which ultimately cost the Marlins the game, but that’s another story.
Pablo López: WE -.076
López, officially the Miami Marlins number three starter, posted a 53 GameScore in his season debut on Saturday, a 7-3 victory against the Rockies. This was his 11th overall start, and that GameScore ranks right in the middle of his efforts overall, in sixth.
López pitched for 5 1/3 innings and struck out seven Rockies, while allowing three runs on five hits and his specialty, zero walks. 62-of-88 pitches finished their journey over the plate, and left the game with a 5-3 Miami lead. His efforts were good enough to earn the Marlins’ first victory of the season.
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José Ureña: WE -.304
Ureña’s season opening effort resulted in a 25 GameScore, tied for the fourth worst start of his then-81 (now 82) start career. His one game effort ended with him sporting a 2.143 WHIP after allowing nine hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings. Ureña was saddled with the loss and only managed to strike out two batters, getting 60-of-94 over the dish.
Three late solo homers weren’t enough to pull Ureña’s name off the pitching line, and as we now know, his struggles have continued into a second game. More on that later.
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