2013 Marlins Season Review: The other starting pitchers

Steve Mitchell

The Miami Marlins employed a few other starting pitchers this season, but none of them figured to last very long or compete for long-term jobs.

The Miami Marlins were lucky to have four Major League-caliber starters for a good majority of the regular season in 2013. But the fourth and fifth starting pitcher sports were occasionally devoid of Major League talent last year. Instead, the Fish filled out those spots with trial players, many of whom failed to impress and did not last long in the big leagues.

Kevin Slowey

Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Kevin Slowey 92 19.2 4.6 4.11 3.81 0.8 0.6

Slowey was the best of the three primary starters the team went to for the bottom of the rotation. Slowey won a job out of Spring Training and started the year by suppressing home runs in a major way. In his first month of the season, Slowey gave up just three homers in 37 2/3 innings while doing his usual walk-suppressing ways. This yielded a 2.15 ERA and 3.18 FIP.

But from that impressive start, Slowey returned to his old ways, complete with a good number of long balls. His career 31 percent ground ball rate reared its ugly head, and he gave up nine more homers in 54 1/3 innings en route to a 5.47 ERA and 4.25 FIP. Still, in those remaining innings, he still struck out 19.1 percent of his hitters faced and walked only 4.8 percent of them, meaning he still pitched well despite the added homers and ugly numbers.

The overall season numbers returned to what you would typically expect from Slowey. At this point, he may still be a viable Major League starter, which is more than can be said for the following two pitchers.

Alex Sanabia
Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Alex Sanabia 55 1/3 12.4 10.0 4.88 5.85 -0.6 -0.3

Sanabia's biggest contribution to the 2013 regular season was the most blatant spitball attempt in recent memory, as Sanabia gave up a home run against the Philadelphia Phillies and then threw a giant loogie all over the ball conveniently in front of the TV broadcast cameras. Other than the spitball and subsequent day of interest in his game, Sanabia was an awful pitcher in 2013.

Despite an intriguing 9.9 percent swinging strike rate, Sanabia barely was able to put the ball in the strike zone. Sanabia threw a two-to-one ratio on balls versus called strikes on his fastballs, and that ratio has just not been good enough to make up for his poor called strike rates on his breaking pitches (3.5 and 3.3 on his changeup and slider respectively). The strikeout rate was not surprising, but because of the lack of called strikes, Sanabia simply could not get strikeouts despite the fact that he was fooling hitters.

The rest of his game was predictably terrible. As an extreme fly ball pitcher, even Marlins Park could not help suppress his home runs, as he gave up 10 in 55 1/3 innings. All of that play led to a midseason injury and permanent demotion.

Wade LeBlanc
Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Wade LeBlanc 55 12.7 7.7 5.40 4.76 0.0 -0.4

LeBlanc entered the season as a player with a decent chance at the fifth starting spot, and he ended up earning that spot thanks to injuries to Eovaldi and Alvarez. But he was not the same pitcher he was in the previous season with the Fish. The Marlins got a lot fewer strikeouts out of LeBlanc this year and, more importantly, the home runs that you suspected might come out from a player with a career 35 percent ground ball rate showed up. LeBlanc gave up seven homers in 55 innings, adding onto Sanabia's problems.

LeBlanc ended up being the first of the Marlins' expendable starters to be sent down to the bullpen, and eventually he was placed on waivers to clear him from the 40-man roster, after which the Houston Astros claimed him.

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