Continuing from our season preview of the Miami Marlins earlier today…
What should you expect from a very young Marlins rotation?
Aside from Ricky Nolasco, this is a very inexperienced batch of pitchers. You've got Henderson Alvarez (251 career innings), Wade LeBlanc (362 career innings), Nate Eovaldi (154 career innings), and Jacob Turner (67 2/3 career ininngs) getting fed to the sharks in a hungry NL East. Things could go bad in a hurry for them, and quite frankly, Nolasco isn't exactly some sort of dominant ace himself. But *could* the Marlins rotation impress people and exceed expectations?
All of Miami's starters aside from Eovaldi (who has the second least experience of the staff) have gotten torched for homers in the majors, with a rate above one per nine innings. However, that's something that will be muted by Marlins Park, which was one of the least favorable parks for home runs in the league during its inaugural season of 2012. After Eovaldi and Turner arrived in Miami, they saw their home run rates drop from where they were prior to the deal (though Turner only made three starts with the Tigers in 2012, so that sample is really insignificant).
None of the five really strike out many hitters. and none really have great control either, with the possible exception of Nolasco when he's on point. It's a rotation based on potential aside from Nolasco, and he's a guy that has drastically underpitched his periperhals over the last four seasons. His highest FIP since 2009 has been 3.87, and his lowest ERA has been 4.48. That's a pretty drastic swing, and expecting him to finally put it all together and have his results match his process at age 30 seems like a bit of a lost cause.
When looking at the other rotations in the NL East, it's pretty evident to me that this staff is either going to be the worst or second worst in the division, depending on health. The Nationals and Braves clearly have better staffs than Miami, and the Phillies have a much better staff if everyone is healthy. It then comes down to the Mets, who have two injury-prone pitchers leading up their rotation. This is something that could end poorly for them, but if Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum throw 160 innings (or more) apiece, the Mets staff will also more than likely be better than the Marlins rotation.
Is that the ceiling of Miami's rotation in 2013: fourth-best in the division? I think the absolute best case scenario for them if every domino falls in their favor is third-best in the division and middle of the pack in baseball. But for that to happen, you're counting on significant injuries to hit both the Phillies and Mets, and for the Marlins starters to exceed all expectations. I'm not sure all of that happening in one season is very likely, let alone probable. If the Marlins rotation has an ERA better than at least one team in the NL East, I think that would be a success for the team.
Marlins on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)