For the Miami Marlins, starting pitching was supposed to be an advantage. The Marlins have arguably the most depth in baseball in terms of starting pitching, with Brian Flynn, Andrew Heaney, and Justin Nicolino among those who are expected to help the Marlins in the near future.
Miami ended an eight game losing streak on Tuesday night with an 11-2 victory over the Washington Nationals. The offense was able to score early against Steven Strasburg, but during the team's road struggles, it wasn't only the offense that was inconsistent-it was also the starting pitching.
In the span of seven consecutive losses to division rivals Washington and Philadelphia through Monday, Marlins pitching had a National League worst 6.60 ERA and .317 batting average against.
It is easy to point the finger at four crushing late-inning home runs allowed by relievers, two of them grand slams. ManagerMike Redmond said the failings of the starters is putting undue pressure on the bullpen as well as a lineup that although improved still scuffles to score.
Carlos Marmol had a hard time throwing strikes in his outing against the Nationals last week, but the bullpen's inefficiency is the direct result of being overused because of the starters' inability to go deep into games. Miami's starting five, including Brad Hand who replaced the injured Jacob Turner, had difficulty finding the strike zone and facing two quality offensive teams in Philadelphia and Washington, couldn't get away with a few mistakes.
Hand lasted just three and a third innings on Monday night, and because of his early departure, the Marlins may look into having Kevin Slowey take the rotation spot until Turner can get healthy.
Although Fernandez and Eovaldi, for the most part, have been productive, Henderson Alvarez has yet to appear dominant. Tom Koehler has looked good in his starts, most notably in his last two, during which he gave up one run in 13 and two third innings.
While closer Steve Cishek hasn't seen much action, Marmol, A.J. Ramos, Mike Dunn, and Dan Jennings have all been used frequently early on. The Marlins added Arquimedes Caminero to the roster to provide bullpen depth, but his lack of command in his last outing may lead to less playing time.
If Miami's bullpen continues to be used too often, Carter Capps is off to a solid start in Triple-A and would be a relief option to consider. While Turner is on the disabled list, Hand's short starts have forced Redmond to use Slowey, who was added to the bullpen as an extra long relief option with starting experience.
The Marlins turned things around behind Koehler on Tuesday, proving the team has the ability to score for an efficient pitcher.