If statistics don’t lie, then the Miami Marlins starting pitchers have been doing a good enough job for this team to better than its record would indicate.
It’s the hitting that has many times this season let the team down. For a young and inexperienced rotation, the Marlins are in the middle of the pack in terms of team stats, which is something that often times gets lost in conversation.
Per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald, the numbers are impressive, honestly.
"“The Marlins’ 3.86 team starting pitching ERA leads the National League East, is fourth in the NL and seventh in MLB heading into Wednesday,” he writes."
The most recent bout of inconsistency of pitching vs. hitting for this organization can be found in the performance of Elieser Hernandez, who has come up from Triple-A New Orleans to give the Marlins two quality starts, only to have it falter because of a lack of execution at the plate.
Hernandez allowed two runs, with one earned, in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks in a 5-0 loss on Monday night. Those numbers usually mean a pitcher has put his team in contention for a win. Not with these Marlins. The hits don’t keep coming.
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"“Really good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Hernandez. “I’m really happy with his outing. He was aggressive, throwing strikes. Mixing pitches. Really good to see.“We’ve always talked about him, he’s a sharp kid,” Mattingly said. “He pitches fearlessly. Throwing strikes. On the attack. Using all of his pitches. A pitch up, a pitch down. Slider. Changeup. He threw the ball well.”"
But contrast, Miami has shown run support for Jordan Yamamoto in his two starts in the Majors. The bats came alive in a 9-0 win over St. Louis last week and followed it up with six runs in another shutout of the Cardinals in consecutive starts. The on again, off again hitting could make a manager go mad.
"“[Miami Marlins manager] Don Mattingly has said it several times this season: If the team’s starting pitching does its job, the Marlins will always be in contention to win ball games,” McPherson added."
The Marlins have not started a pitcher over the age of 27 this season, which bodes well for the future. With other arms in the minor league system proving to be consistent and sometimes downright dominant – see Zach Gallen – it’s proof positive that the process the front office is preaching is working, even if it is at a turtle’s pace.
Yamamoto pitched two gems we will talk about for the majority of this season mainly because they came out of nowhere. He has been a strikeout pitcher in Jacksonville, the Marlins Double-A affiliate, but nobody could have expected the sheer dominance he has had on the mound over 14 shutout innings.
While we talk about these two young rising stars, we can’t forget the other starters who have experienced the same fate of Hernandez this season. Sandy Alcantara is 3-6 this season but has a 3.73 ERA. Caleb Smith is 3-4 with a 3.41 ERA. Pablo Lopez is 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA. And it seems everyone forgets about Trevor Richards, but despite his 3-7 record, he sports a 3.68 ERA.
Jose Urena was once 1-6 on the season and improved to 4-7 before being placed in the 60-day I.L. with a lower back injury. Is ERA is 4.70. Things aren’t that bad on the mound when you look at the bigger picture.
"“They have one of the top staffs in the league when it comes to swing and miss rate. Opponents have whiffed on 16.2 percent of pitches swung at from Marlins starting pitchers, the seventh-highest rate in MLB,” McPherson wrote. “Four Marlins starters rank among the top 50 in the league: Caleb Smith (32.3 percent, seventh), Trevor Richards (28.7, 24th), Sandy Alcantara (25.9 percent, 40th) and Pablo Lopez (24.9 percent, 47th).”"
And with improved hitting, these stats should look even better.
The Marlins aren’t in any hurry to get rid of their young pitchers and will continue to build a foundation through these arms. Expect more baffling numbers while the batting order figures it out. There is still plenty of baseball to be played.
The Marlins are by no means a winning franchise yet. But knowing the stats are on the side of the starting rotation makes you wonder when the front office will begin making more changes to find the right fit at the plate.