The Marlins starting pitching rotation is starting to take shape, well, sorta.
From Clark Spencer:
Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco were always in the rotation. Anibal Sanchez is now in. That leaves two openings. Based on everything I've seen and heard, Hensley and Chris Volstad are the frontrunners for the other two spots, with Miller, Rick VandenHurk and Hayden Penn looking like the odd men out at the moment. Penn, who is out of options, hurt his chances with Sunday's rough outing when he gave up four runs on five hits and a pair of walks in just 1 2/3 innings. VandenHurk threw four scoreless innings on Sunday. But it was done in near anonymity, in a minor league game on one of the back fields as the Marlins were playing the Nationals inside the stadium. That manager Fredi Gonzalez and front office wizards Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill watched Penn and Johnson pitch in the regular game against Washington probably doesn't bode well for VandenHurk (0-1, 6.23). Miller (1-0, 10.80) has not exactly had a great spring and looks likely for New Orleans.
I'm a little confused about what Volstad has done right this spring. The spring stats sure don't show a great improvement. In 2009, his K/9 was 6.06 this spring it is 3.65. His 2009 BB/9 was 3.34 while this spring it is presently 5.11. His K/BB this spring is 0.71 while last year he threw at a 1.81 clip. His batting average against was .274 last season and thus far this spring it is .380. The other troubling stat is he is averaging 11.68 pitches per inning which is tops among the starters. The area where he has shown improvement is his ground ball to fly ball ratio: it was 1.47 in 2009 and this spring it is 1.91. If you are sinker pitcher, such as Volstad, it is good to see that metric improve. But still, there is something about the way he has performed that seems to indicate he still hasn't fixed all of his pitching issues. Yes, yes, I know that spring training stats should be taken with a grain of salt. That said though, for some reason the Marlins front office uses them to determine the opening season roster, and I'm having a hard time seeing the improvement over last season.
Then again, I haven't seen him throw this spring and maybe the coaches and the scouts are seeing some marked improvement which isn't showing up in the simple stats. Always a possibility.