COMMENTARY | Although beginning the season with a major league-worst 2-10 record, the Miami Marlins' starting pitchers should take almost none of the blame for the team's struggles. In fact, they have been one of the best groups of starters in Major League Baseball.
Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Slowey, Wade LeBlanc, Alex Sanabia, and rising star Jose Fernandez sport an impressive combined ERA of 2.78 through the first 12 games of the season -- the fifth-best ERA in baseball.
Fernandez, 20, a top prospect of the club, is off to a particularly excellent first two starts of his major-league career. He leads the team with an ERA of 0.82, a WHIP of 0.73, and 13 strikeouts in only 11 innings pitched. In his last start, Fernandez even drove in one of the two runs in the Marlins' second victory of the season, a win over the Philadelphia Phillies on April 13.
First-time Marlins pitcher Kevin Slowey has also been a pleasant surprise so far this season. Before this season, Slowey had last pitched in the majors for the Minnesota Twins back in 2011, when he performed horrendously to put it nicely. In 14 games and eight starts with the Twins, Slowey was 0-8 with an ERA of 6.67. He would then spend all of the 2012 season in AAA with not much improvement. However, his 2.04 ERA and 11 strikeouts are good enough for second place on the Marlins' staff this season. Hopefully, he can continue his fine form throughout the year.
Amazingly, despite the rotation's success, Alex Sanabia is the only Marlins starter with a win on his record despite having the worst ERA of the five starters at 4.91. If the Marlins' hitting would have been anything better than Adam-Dunn-in-a-slump bad, they could certainly be a team that is above .500 at the moment. They are second to last in the majors in batting average at .204 and are last in home runs with only two (one from Justin Ruggiano, one from Greg Dobbs). They have scored only six total runs in their last six home games and have been shut out in a third of their total games this season.
It is my hope the starters can keep up this excellent pace they have set and that the hitters will heat up soon, but, my head tells me, we're likely to see the hitting and pitching swap success throughout the year. If ownership wants to win back some support from the irked fan base, maybe it will deal for some more offense near the trade deadline.
Brett grew up in south Florida and is a lifelong Marlins supporter. He is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.S. in Sport Management.
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