Pablo Lopez is one of three pitchers that most agree will anchor the Miami Marlins 2020 rotation.
Along with Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez is expected to man three of the five rotation spots for the 2020 campaign. The other two spots will be filled by some combination of Jordan Yamamoto, Jose Urena, Nick Neidert, Robert Dugger, and Elieser Hernandez.
Lopez, a six-foot-three, 200 lb. right-handed pitching, lefty-hitting starter from Cabimas, VZ, is turning 24-years-old today. Now entering his third season of major league ball with the Marlins, Lopez started his professional career in the Seattle Mariners minor league system in 2013. Four seasons at various levels of their minors would see Lopez start in 46-of-60 appearances, and post a 21-11 record and a 3.37 ERA, with 189 strikeouts in 288 1/3 innings.
Near the 2017 trade deadline, while still under the Loria ownership group, the Marlins traded David Phelps to the Mariners for four players. Brayan Hernandez, Brandon Miller, Lukas Schiraldi, and Lopez. Lopez is the only one left from that group, and Phelps only pitched in a few games for the Mariners.
Lopez matriculated directly to the High-A level Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, and started in six of his first eight Marlins appearances. He was 0-3 with a solid 2.18 ERA, and walked only seven batters in 45 1/3 innings.
To begin 2018, Lopez’ first seven games would see him strike out 42 while walking only seven in 37 2/3 innings. He racked up a 0.24 ERA through that time for the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League, allowing a solo-home-run and nothing else until his eighth start.
After four starts for the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Lopez was called up to the Marlins for a start on June 30th against the New York baseball Mets. He struck out five in six innings, surrendering two runs on six hits and earning the win in a 5-2 victory.
In 10 starts for the Miami Marlins, Lopez was 2-4 with a 4.14 ERA and 46 whiffs in 58 2/3 innings, along with a 1.261 WHIP and a 93 ERA+. It wasn’t a world-beating campaign by any measure, but it was good enough for the Marlins to book a return engagement.
More from Editorials/Analysis
- Miami Marlins: Is J.T. Realmuto the greatest of all time?
- Marlins manager Don Mattingly must push the right buttons in 2020
- Miami Marlins: How does the team’s narrative change while baseball waits?
- Jordan Yamamoto’s 2020 Miami Marlins Season Preview
- Marlins CF could have a breakout season according to Bleacher Report
In 2019, Lopez ranked third on the team with 21 starts and posted a 5-8 record with a 5.09 ERA. He struck out 95 batters in 111 1/3 innings, along with a 1.240 WHIP and an ERA+ of 83.
Lopez’ special stock-in-trade has always been in his near-elite level of control, as evidenced by his team-leading 2.2 BB/9 in 2019. He uses his four-seamer the most, to great effect around 42 percent of the time according to Baseball Savant. That fastball lives around 93-94 MPH, and occasionally touches 97. He also mixes in a changeup (22 percent), a curveball (19.4 percent) and a sinker (16.3 percent).
In 4 2/3 innings this spring, Lopez has given up five hits and two earned runs, with three walks and three strikeouts. Nothing has changed as far as the Miami Marlins plans for Lopez in the near-future. He’s still expected to begin this season in the rotation, and they control his rights until the 2025 campaign.