The Marlins have lost seven of their last eight games, placing them dead last in the National League East. The front office decided to shake things up yesterday by sending down the struggling Chris Coghlan and Michael Dunn. Their replacements are outfielder Bryan Peterson and relief pitcher Dan Jennings. Fish Stripes writer Sam Evans profiled Bryan Peterson last night. But what can we expect from Jennings?
Dan Jenning's relationship with the Marlins first began when he was selected by the team in the ninth round of the 2008 draft. Jennings then had a promising beginning to his career as a starter for short-season Jamestown. In thirteen starts, Jennings posted a 3.53 ERA, with a 9.5 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9. The following year, Jennings was converted to a relief pitcher and shot through the farm system, moving from low Class A Greensboro to Double-A Jacksonville. During this time, Jennings saw his walk rate rise to 3.7 BB/9.
Jennings began 2010 with Jacksonville again, this time with mixed results. His ERA stayed at a healthy 2.56, but his strikeout and walk rate both fell. Jenning's career took a turn for the worse when he was suspended for fifty games in July of 2010 after taking a protein shake that contained the illegal stimulant Methylhexanemine. Jennings served out his suspension and then returned in 2011, throwing 25 innings with a 3.16 ERA for Jacksonville before being promoted to New Orleans. Jennings's control evaporated in Triple-A and he found himself allowing 24 earned runs in 30 innings pitched.
Jennings's brief stint in Triple-A this year had thus far been far more successful than last year's. In 8.2 innings pitched, Jennings had a 2.08 ERA, with ten strikeouts and four walks.
Jennings profiles as a lefty specialist due to his low angle delivery that makes his pitches hard to read for left-handed batters. His fastball sits in the low-90s and will occasionally touch 94, but his best pitch is his slider, which has a nice, sharp break. Throughout of all the ups and downs over the years, Jennings has also shown a remarkable ability to keep the baseball inside the park. He has only allowed seven home runs in his five years of professional baseball. The real problem with Jennings has always been his command.
Unfortunately, the major projection systems forecast that Jennings is unlikely to succeed at the major league level.
Dan Szymborski's ZiPS: 55.2 IP, 4.53 ERA, 7.1 K/9, 5.3 BB/9
Steamer Projections: 0 IP, 4.93 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 5.1 BB/9
Those same projection systems are both far more optimistic about Michael Dunn's future. ZiPS predicts a 3.96 ERA for Dunn, while Steamer predicts a 3.66 ERA. The difference between Dunn and Jennings could be substantial. It seems to me that the the Marlins may be giving up on Dunn too early, as he has only thrown 5.2 innings so far this year.