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Florida Marlins starting pitchers and innings

The Florida Marlins starters are beginning to rack up innings and that may not be good.

By beginning the season on the disabled list, Rick VandenHurk could be the freshest starter in the rotation for the Marlins at a time when others are wearing down. A fresh Josh Beckett came in handy for the Marlins in 2003.

``I think it would help him and us,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said of VandenHurk. ``This is his April, really.''

VandenHurk, who started the season on the DL with right elbow inflammation, enters his start Wednesday having thrown less than 70 innings this season: 17 with the Marlins and 51 2/3 in the minors.

By contrast, Josh Johnson (141 innings heading into his start Tuesday) and Chris Volstad (132 innings) could surpass 200 innings pitched for the first time in their careers.

Ricky Nolasco (132 innings combined between the Marlins and minors) is taking aim on his second consecutive season of 200-plus innings.

Let's leave the awesome benefits of VandenHurk getting hurt while participating in the WBC aside for a moment.

Josh Johnson has thrown a total of 148 innings.  Chris Volstad 132 and Ricky Nolasco 132.  There are two rules of thumb, one being that above 170 innings the injury nexus kicks in.  To say it a different way after a pitcher has thrown 170 innings he is more likely prone to injury.  Since there are pitchers who can throw that number of innings in the prime of their careers (around age 27) and keep going there is a second rule of thumb that an increase of over 30 innings from the previous year will either cause physical damage or end up causing a substandard year in the next season.

JJ is up first.  Johnson (25 years old) is on a path to throw over 200 innings.  Last season he threw a total of 116.2 when he was coming back from Tommy John surgery.

Volstad (22 years old) is also on the path to throw over 200 innings.  Last season he threw 175 innings total between the majors and the minors.

Nolasco (26 years old) is going to do 200 innings again.  Last year he threw 212 innings after only pitching 55 total innings the previous year.

Johnson and Volstad could end up being in the danger zone.  Nolasco, while I think he will persevere, he could tire out down the stretch due to his overload from last season.

And, oh, the Incredible Hurk (24 years old).  He threw only 87 innings last season, went off to the WBC and hurt his elbow.  Now, he is up to 70 innings.  I'm guessing he is going to easily pass the 117 mark.

Not trying to bring anyone down, but it is something to watch out for in the latter stages of the season.  Just because they are rules of thumb doesn't mean they will happen, but it does cause one to raise an eyebrow.

When a team has a young staff innings become an area of concern.