Ranking the Miami Marlins Starting Pitchers: Third Time Lucky

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 13: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 13: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins finally put an end to their five-game losing streak, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 10-3 with 13,828 on hand at Marlins Park.

Caleb Smith earned the victory, striking out six and holding the Phils scoreless on one hit and three free passes. The bullpen was solid for the most part, with Nick Anderson tossing a perfect seventh with two K’s and Tayron Guerrero striking out a pair in a scoreless eighth. Only Adam Conley had a bad night, but he did enough to hold Miami’s 10-run lead in the final frame. He surrendered three runs on four hits.

Austin Dean showed the Miami Marlins they were right to give him a shot. The rookie went four-for-four with three runs and five RBI with two singles, a double, and a home run. In total the Marlins collected 18 base hits. Miguel Rojas and Brian Anderson also each hit safely three times, while Neil Walker and Jorge Alfaro also had multi-hit efforts.

This season, we’ll be taking a closer look at the Miami Marlins starting rotation, and how they match up to one another. I’ll be ranking them by using a weighted GameScore system over their last 10 starts, with the most recent start assigned the most weight. Using this homemade metric, we’ll start with the best performer thus far.

Caleb Smith

GameScore: 58, 57, 74 – Weighted Average: 63.6

The new and improved Dr. K made his first start in over nine calendar months on April 1st, in a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets. Smith, however, had nothing to be embarrassed about. He lasted five innings and allowed two runs while striking out eight and walking just one. After his second start, opponents had managed five runs on eight hits and three walks over his first 11 innings of work. He also struck out 15. Will that 12.3 K/9 rate prove sustainable? Maybe over the long run.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FLORIDA – APRIL 13: Caleb Smith #31 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In Smith’s third start, he got 64-of-99 pitches in the strike zone, and surrendered only one hit and no runs. Smith walked three and struck out six to earn the second highest GameScore of the season in Miami’s victory against the Phillies.

Trevor Richards

GameScore: 62, 54, 72 – Weighted Average: 63.0

Trevor Richards‘ first three starts rank a fraction of a point behind Smith’s first three. After coming out of nowhere last year to tie Ureña for the team lead with 130 strikeouts, Richards added to his arsenal in the offseason.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 29: Trevor Richards #36 of the Miami Marlins throws a pitch in the first inning during the game against the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park on March 29, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Already armed with a plus-plus changeup, Richards added a little to his fastball and engineered a new curveball. The added effort has thus far paid off with three Quality Starts, the only Miami Marlins pitcher to be able to claim that. He’s struck out a batter-per-inning over his first 18 frames, while allowing 10 hits and 10 walks. Although that walk-total looks a little high, the bottom line is that Richards’ current 1.111 WHIP is an all-star worthy figure, if he can hold it over a larger sample size.

Sandy Alcantara

GameScore: 80, 41, 25 – Weighted Average 46.6

Sandy Alcantara blew the doors off in his first start of the season, earning the highest mark yet recorded in the Miami Marlins 3-0 victory against the Rockies. He struck out six and held them to four hits and zero walks over a season-team-high eight innings.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FLORIDA – APRIL 12: Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the second inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Marlins Park on April 12, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Alcantara struggled slightly in his second start, holding the Atlanta Braves to two runs but walking five in only four innings. In his third, he matched Ureña’s Opening Day futility with the Marlins lowest mark of the season. In that one, he struck out six in five innings, but allowed 11 hits and a pair of walks for six runs.

Alcantara is the only actual rookie in the young rotation, but when his stuff is at its best, he may soon be the best weapon in the starting five.

Pablo Lopez

GameScore: 53, 41, 38 – Weighted Average 43.4

Pablo Lopez hasn’t broken any records yet, but he’s got the makeup that the Miami Marlins need in their rotation. Over his first 15 innings, he’s given up 19 hits and 11 runs, but only two walks. He’s also caused more opponents to miss than in his rookie campaign. Although the sample size is still small, he’s increased his K/9 rate from 7.1 in 2018 to 10.2 in 2019, with 17 strikeouts so far.

Lopez, who was accepted to medical school at the tender age of 16, may someday be even more deserving of the “Dr. K” moniker than Smith.

José Ureña

GameScore: 25, 31, 36 – Weighted Average 31.1

With three of the four lowest GameScores recorded on the team over the first 15 games, the best thing you can say about José Ureña at this point is that at least he’s trending the right way. After an opening day loss to the Colorado Rockies in which he allowed five runs on nine hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings, we all expected the worst. In his second start, he was slightly better, but still allowed over a run per inning to end the night with a 10.38 ERA.

In Ureña’s latest outing, he allowed four runs over five frames. It was the first time he had reached the five inning mark, and also the first time this year he’s held the opponent to less than a run per inning. Faint praise, I know, but Ureña isn’t usually at his best at the start of the season. Look for him to gradually improve through the season, and finish with an ERA around 4.30.

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Next. Limit Dr. K? I hope not. dark

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