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2013 Marlins Season Review: The bullpen, part 2

The Miami Marlins had a number of other options in their bullpen for much of 2013, but their work was hit-or-miss for the team.

Chad Qualls wasn't the most gracious Marlin in 2013, but he was effective out of the bullpen.
Chad Qualls wasn't the most gracious Marlin in 2013, but he was effective out of the bullpen.
Harry How

The Miami Marlins featured a number of successful bullpen pitchers, but like all pens, the good often comes with the bad. The remainder of the Marlins relievers who pitched the majority of the season in the majors were a mixed bag of success.

Chad Qualls
Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Chad Qualls 62 19.4 7.5 2.61 3.32 0.5 1.8

Qualls was signed as a veteran nonguaranteed Spring Training invitee, so not much was expected of the 35-year-old reliever. Indeed, following a disastrous year split between the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Yankees, no one should have expected anything but a swift release. But Qualls performed during Spring Training, and his run of good play extended into the regular season. Qualls managed a seventh- and eighth-inning role, but was shoved forward primarily into the setup man role thanks to strong play.

After a few years of precipitously low strikeout rates (13.0 percent rate from 2011 to 2012), Qualls found his swing-and-miss groove back a little. His 19.4 percent rate was the highest he posted since 2009, when he was on the back end of a closer career. Qualls also put up a career-high 63.3 percent ground ball rate, and that combined with Marlins Park to allow for a superb home run rate. Qualls gave up just four long balls, the lowest number in a single season since 2008.

Qualls is a free agent this year, and you can expect a competing team to accidentally overpay him, but the Marlins will happily allow him to walk after already banking his good season. Plus, no matter where he goes, Marlins fans will always have this:

Ryan Webb
Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Ryan Webb 80 1/3 16.3 8.1 2.91 3.60 0.4 1.2

Webb threw the most innings out of any Marlins reliever, beating out A.J. Ramos by one measly out, but his performance was decidedly mixed. On the one hand, Webb did allow a 2.91 ERA and put up more than a win in relief according to that earned run number. He stranded 75 percent of baserunners, including 29 percent of inherited runners he saw. He also did his job in the ground ball category, bouncing back from last season and geting a ground ball rate of 56.3 percent while inducing nine double play balls.

On the other hand, his peripherals continue to look terrible. The strikeout rate has not climbed beyond 17 percent since he debuted for the San Diego Padres before the Cameron Maybin trade, and it remains too low for a reliever. The velocity that was once a threat is no longer present either, as Webb's sinker has sunk down to a 92 mph average from when he started in the mid-90's three years ago.

Webb was a trade candidate at midseason, and it is likely he will be a trade candidate this year as he enters his second arbitration year. It would be hard to find any major takers, but the Marlins would be wise to send him packing while he has any value.

Dan Jennings

Marlins, 2013 IP K% BB% ERA FIP fWAR rWAR
Dan Jennings 40 2/3 22.2 9.4 3.76 2.68 0.6 0.4

Jennings was brought up early in the season and was one of the six bullpen pitchers who stuck at the Major League level. His value came primarily as a lefty specialist and occasional innings-eater in low-leverage games. The Marlins attempted to limit him to lefties whenever possible, as 54 percent of his batters faced were left-handers.

Against them, Jennings had mixed results. On one hand, his 3.21 FIP shows that his stuff seemed to work well on a strikeout-walk level. On the other hand, left-handers hit .279/.333/.412 (.325 wOBA) against him thanks to a .364 BABIP, so they may have gotten a good deal lucky against him. On the other hand, righties may have fared in the opposite fashion, hitting just .217/.308/.368 (.289 wOBA) despite worse walk numbers.

Jennings put up a decent ground ball rate and showed in spurts this year that he could strike out both lefties and righties. He probably would need to throw more than a fastball and slider to be effective against righties long-term, but he appears to at least have the tools to be an effective lefty specialist.