PITCHING IN

While Josh Johnson’s early-season struggles are no doubt very alarming, we shouldn’t lose sight of the tremendous success of the other 4 men in the Miami starting rotation through the first month-plus of the season. 

While their personal win-loss records don’t all show how brilliantly they’ve pitched due to several blown saves and, at times, a serious lack of run support, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, Carlos Zambrano and Anibal Sanchez are all off to terrific starts.

How about this breakdown?

Josh Johnson: 0-3 with a 6.61 ERA and a .359 average against

Other 4 starters: 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA and a .231 average against

After Saturday night’s complete-game masterpiece in San Diego, Buehrle is 2-4 with a 2.83 ERA and a .252 average against with a nearly 4-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The Marlins have been held to 1 or no runs in 3 of his 4 losses.

With his 68th career win yesterday, tying him with Dontrelle Willis atop the Marlins’ career list, Nolasco improved to 4-0 and lowered his season ERA to 2.72 through 6 starts, with opponents hitting just .235 against him. The Marlins are 5-1 in Ricky’s 6 starts with 2 blown saves (one by Edward Mujica April 13 vs. Houston in a game the Marlins ultimately won and one by Heath Bell April 26 at New York).  The blown saves are the only thing standing in the way of Ricky being 6-0 in his 6 starts. He’s worked at least 7 innings 4 times already, has allowed 2 runs or fewer 4 times and has allowed 1 home run in his last 5 outings (31.2 innings).

Tonight’s starter Zambrano is 0-2 with a 2.53 ERA and a .223 average allowed through 5 starts, but the Marlins have been shut out in both of his losses, and he’s been the victim of a blown save in all 3 of his no-decisions. With any luck, he could have 5 wins right now.

And Anibal Sanchez is “only” 2-0 after 5 starts despite a 2.43 ERA and a .210 opponents average.  He’s allowed only 26 hits and 2 homers in 33.1 innings, while posting a better than 4-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Anibal’s 10.3 K’s per 9 innings lead the National League.

If Buehrle, Nolasco, Zambrano and Nolasco can continue at anywhere near their current paces, and Josh Johnson can get on track, the Marlins’ rotation has the makings of being a huge strength in 2012.

For more on the Marlins, follow me on Twitter @GlennGeffner and friend me on Facebook at Facebook.com/GlennGeffner. To have new Fish Tales posts delivered directly to you via email, please “Follow” the blog above. And you can catch Marlins play-by-play on the radio all season long on 790 The Ticket and the Marlins Radio Network.

5 Comments

Joe Girardi wanted to turn JJ into a closer in 06. It may be time to consider this again. JJ just does not have 500 innings in him over the next 3 seasons. He is better suited to being a closer. Of course, JJ and Bells contracts may dictate their place in the rotation. Sanabia and McComb in N.O. or Hand in Jax will give more quality innings.

Not sure I’m ready to give up on Josh as a starter following one bad month after not pitching in a big league game for almost 11 months. He’s been too good when healthy to just say he can no longer be a successful major league starter. Needs a little more time to work through whatever it is he’s dealing with, be it mechanical or just getting the feel back. Not sure who “McComb” is, but unless he’s Justin Verlander, the other 2 guys you mentioned have combined for 6 big league wins. No matter what they’re currently doing in the PCL, the suggestion that (at this stage in their development and based on what they’ve all done in the majors in the past) they project to “give more quality innings” than Josh is absurd.

My mistake, LeBlanc not McComb, was writing this at the barber shop, get it Mc”Comb”? Anyway, you say absurd, I say bold and proactive. JJ’s health history should dictate his present and future use. If JJ can’t crank it up for one inning at 97 MPH, it’s a moot point. If he can, his control and his slider can make him a lights out closer. Others have done it, but these examples are based on the player. I’d bet JJ can close 120 games sooner than winning 40 as a starter over the next 3 seasons which I believe is the length of his contract.

I am really worried about JJ and I hope he can work thru his issues because he has proven in the past that he is the “Ace” of the rotation.Saying he should be a closer is absurd!!

You guys are using the word “absurd” an awful lot. Think CJ Wilson in reverse.

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