It has been the story of the season for the Miami Marlins.
Little run support has led to many losses for the Marlins, and several starting pitchers have losing records as a result of an inconsistent offense.
Several seasons ago, Elih Villanueva and Tom Koehler were expected to be key pieces of Miami's starting rotation for the seasons that followed. Villanueva made his major league debut in 2011 against the Phillies and has yet to appear in the major leagues since.
Koehler made his big league debut last season and appeared in eight games. He went 0-1 with an earned run average of 5.40.
When lefty Wade LeBlanc began to struggle in the rotation, manager Mike Redmond inserted Koehler into the rotation and sent LeBlanc to the bullpen. Koehler, though he has yet to earn his first major league win, has made three consecutive quality starts, punctuated by an eight inning outing on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"It's nice," Koehler said. "It shows that they have confidence in me to go out there and face that lineup for the start of a fourth time. It's tough to sit here and say I'm happy, because I'm not. I'm not happy with giving up two runs in the first inning and putting the team in a hole. I'm happy I was able to go eight strong and keep them in the game. But at the same time, I'm frustrated with myself, putting them in a hole early."
Because the Marlins have struggled with runners In scoring position, Koehler has an 0-3 record despite limiting the number of runs he has allowed.
After four starts and 36 and a third innings, Koehler has posted an ERA of 3.22, walking eleven while striking out 24.
"He was able to go to his breaking ball and his changeup quicker than probably he wanted to, but it was effective and it worked for him," Redmond said of Koehler's performance against Tampa Bay. "After he started mixing in some curveballs and that changeup, he really settled in and pretty much breezed through the rest of that game."
Despite not yet earning his first win with the Marlins, Koehler still believes that there is room for improvement.
"I have to do a better job of mixing my pitches from the get-go, especially to guys who we know are fastball hitters."