07 May 2007

Marlins Preview: Where did all the starting pitching go?

by Joshua Worley

Last year the Marlins seemed to be rich in good young starting pitching, with Olson, Sanchez, Willis, but they haven't carried through to this season. The starting ERA has gone from third in the National League at 4.22 last year to last in the league at 5.21 this year. The bullpen has gone from the staff weakness to the staff strength, but the improvement there hasn't been enough to keep the total team ERA from rising from 4.37 to 4.74, even as run scoring is down so far this year compared to last.

The Marlins have a very good offense led by Ramirez and Cabrera, who may both challenge for MVP this year. But the pitching has let them down so far. They've scored 163, best in the NL, but also allowed 163, worst in the NL. It was the best of times, it was the Uggla-ist of times.

Here's a typical Marlin's lineup:

SS -- Ramirez
2B -- Uggla
3B -- Cabrera
1B -- Jacobs
LF -- Willingham
RF -- Borchard
C -- Olivo
CF -- Amezaga

The Dodgers are hurting after that last loss to the Braves. Or, more precisely, I'm hurting. I don't really know how the actual Dodgers are feeling right now. The Dodgers need to take at least 3 of 4 in this series. They can do it, too, though I won't say they'd be favoured to do it. The matchups are Penny v Nolasco, Hendrickson v Obermueller in the battle of long names, Tomko v Willis, and Lowe v Mitre. If the Dodgers don't win this series, I'm giving them all mean nicknames.

Hanley Ramirez

age: 23
bats: right

0.339 -- 0.426 -- 0.545

Any chance we can make his nickname "Hanley Solo", pilot of the "Millenium Marlin"? Something has to be done to make up for his lack of an interesting middle name, right?

Oh Boston, when will you learn? You dispersed such fine players at Hanley Ramirez, Josh Bard and Cla Meredith to the winds for what? A knuckle-ball catcher and a blistery pitcher? To be fair, I guess Beckett is working out okay this year.

Hanley was very good last year, and he's been great this year. He's walking more this year, perhaps eliminating any lingering doubts about his plate discipline, which was the knock against him when he was a prospect; for instance, he drew only 32 walks to 422 at-bats one year in low A. He's overcome any impatience issues he once had.

He's really tough against lefties, so Hendrickson better watch out.

Jose Miguel Cabrera

age: 24
bats: right

0.353 -- 0.442 -- 0.618

He's only 24? My goodness, what a talent. He may well be the MVP when the whole season is over.

There doesn't appear to be anywhere to pitch him that's really safe. He hits anything in the strike zone. He is by far the best player in the series.

Joshua David Willingham

age: 28
bats: right

0.282 -- 0.373 -- 0.518

His first full season was 2006 at age 27, when he had an OPS of 0.852. He's started this year even better. I'm not sure why he took so long to get to the major leagues. He hit at every level he played at.

Michael James Jacobs

age: 26
bats: left

0.292 -- 0.370 -- 0.483

Another solid Marlins hitter. He's in a semi-platoon with Aaron Boone. He's a doubles man, with 8 so far.

Daniel Cooley Uggla

age: 27
bats: right

0.231 -- 0.326 -- 0.438

He came out of nowhere, and perhaps is in danger of returning to nowhere. He's really cooley-ed off this year. Maybe he won't fade into obscurity, though, if his batting average perks up. His line drive percentage is only 13%, last year it was 17%.

He did not easily climb the minor league ladder. It took him two years to master high A, and most of two years to master AA. From there he went right to the big leagues and shockingly seemed to master that in his first year.

Right now he's the only weakness at the top of the order for the Marlins. The Dodger pitchers better take advantage of him.

Joseph Edward Borchard

age: 28
bats: switch

0.212 -- 0.305 -- 0.356

He's not very good. Nothing in his past indicates he's can hit enough for a corner outfielder, or even a center fielder, for that matter. He's really bad when he bats right-handed, only kinda bad when he bats left handed.

Miguel Eduardo Olivo

age: 28
bats: right

0.243 -- 0.270 -- 0.355

He is lacking the walks that even fellow bad hitters Uggla and Borchard are drawing. He's also lacking, so far, the homers he hit last year. ( 16 last year, 1 this year. )

Alfredo Amezaga

age: 29
bats: switch

0.235 -- 0.279 -- 0.370

Oh dear. I hope he plays a mean center field. His natural position is shortstop. Maybe it's time to play Cody Ross more? Answer to this stupid question below; though this question wasn't as stupid as when I said Chipper Jones had still hit 10 homers this year despite missing playing time in March. Of course March games are the games that don't count.

Cody Joseph Ross

age: 26
bats: right

0.302 -- 0.383 -- 0.642

Poor guy is day-to-day, with a left hammy strain. He didn't really do much last year with the fish, but maybe he's turning it around a bit this year. I don't think so, though. He's still striking out about 24% of his plate appearances, same as last year, which just won't cut it. Not for a guy with his skill set.

Wait, apparently now he's on the DL. Well, so much for that.

Aaron John Boone

age: 34
bats: right

0.320 -- 0.368 -- 0.460

Why sign a third baseman when you have Cabrera on your team? Well, he splits time at first these days. Maybe the Marlins like to torment retiree Red Sox fans. Maybe they should hire Bucky Dent as their hitting couch.

Carlos Enrique Nolasco

age: 24
throws: right

ERA -- IP -- SO -- BB -- HR
5.68 -- 6.1 -- 6 -- 1 -- 2

He recently came off the DL, hence his mere 6 innings pitched. But yikes, already two homers served up. That continues his pattern from last year, when he allowed one per seven innings pitched. He's a shaky pitcher coming off injury: the Dodgers need to hammer him.

Wesley Mitchell Obermueller

age: 30
throws: right

3.07 -- 14.2 -- 12 -- 7 -- 0

He was so bad as a starter and then failed starter turned reliever from 2003 to 2005 for Milwaukee that he spent all of 2006 at AAA. He's been promoted to the starting rotation now to take the demoted Sanchez's place. We'll see how long that nice ERA lasts.

Sergio Armando Mitre

age: 26
throws: right

3.12 -- 17.1 -- 12 -- 5 -- 2

He's another one of those pitchers who often has blister problems. Half his runs allowed have been unearned, which may help explain why his ERA is 3 so far instead of the +5 it's always been in the past. None of these pitchers should scare the Dodgers. This would be a great series for Furcal, Nomar, and Gonzo to start getting out of their slumps, and LaRoche to really make a great first impression.

Dontrelle Wayne Willis

age: 25
throws: left

5.44 -- 43.0 -- 36 -- 14 -- 5

Willis isn't this bad, but he's not that good either. He's underrated by his current ERA and overrated by his reputation. The Dodgers have almost always hit him, for some reason.

1 comment:

Griffster said...

So far, so good - the Dodgers have managed to hammer the first starting pitcher a little bit, as per schedule.

Today we see whether they can take advantage of an opposing pitcher that could well be hittable two days in a row.