Relief pitching wasn’t thought to be amongst the strengths in the Marlins’ game entering 2020. Despite the addition of Brandon Kintzler and Yimi Garcia, the core of the sixth-worst bullpen last year was back. However, star acquisitions have more than delivered.
Through the completion of nearly all of Miami’s first two series of 2020, the Marlins have provided one of the best relief displays around baseball. With signings and new names shining, the vibe around the bullpen is a lot more positive compared to just six months ago.
The 5-1 Marlins are doing great on many different fronts so far. However, how sustainable is the success on the mound when it comes to relief pitching? Here’s where the bullpen stands and whether it’ll stay there as the season progresses.
What the Numbers Say
The Marlins have a bullpen ERA of 2.92 ERA since the start of the 2020 MLB season. This is the ninth-best figure in the league and the third-best within the National League East division. In addition, this is also an increase from 4.97 ERA throughout 2019.
Kintzler has had a great start to his career as a Marlins closer. The former Cubs reliever is yet to allow a run in four innings while recording two saves. This is accompanied by a walk and two strikeouts, or 4.50 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9.
The same goes for Garcia, who has pitched 2.2 innings, third-most among Miami relievers. Stephen Tarpley is off to a rocky 3.00-ERA start but capped that off with a save on Wednesday against the Orioles. Furthermore, five other relief pitchers who have pitched over an inning on the mound have surrendered no runs.
Brad Boxberger has struck out two and walked three through 2.1 scoreless innings. Also, Sterling Sharp has only allowed a single base-runner in 1.2 innings and Richard Bleier has thrown 1.1 perfect innings.
Despite the hot start, the Marlins bullpen will have to improve their stats when it comes to the three true outcomes in order to stay dominant. The team is last in bullpen strikeouts per nine with 6.57. Control has also been a struggle for Miami with 5.47 BB/9, sixth-most in the MLB.
What to Watch For
Despite the results being avid, the Marlins bullpen is probably bound to hit Earth sooner rather than later. The team has only faced the Phillies and the Orioles, both being average (or subpar) offensive units, and it’s still allowed 15 bases on balls.
The factor that still remains unseen in practice is how the group performs against powerful lineups. Although Kintzler surrendered a mere 0.8 HR/9 last year in Chicago, the Marlins were fifth with 1.55 HR/9 as a unit. Therefore, still expect a decent regression to the mean.
However, the Marlins bullpen is no longer brutally bad and unwatchable. Moreover, it could even remain at this level if players like Garcia, Tarpley, and Sharp get more innings.
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!