The Miami Marlins sported two relievers who played at a high level in 2015, one who struggled during his time there, and a number of other guys who were varying shades in between. Miami had a bullpen that worked in terms of their overall ERA/FIP performance but struggled in terms of sequencing and "clutch" performances, thus yielding a mixed bag of results. We finish up our review of the 2015 Fish by discussing some of the remaining relief names of note on the team this past year.
After two seasons with increasingly better numbers, especially in terms of walk rates, Dunn fell off the map in that regard in 2015. He allowed a 12.3 percent walk rate which more closely resembled his numbers from 2011 and 2012 rather than the improved numbers from 2013 and 2014. He also allowed six homers in his 54 innings, which is only three less than he allowed in his previous 124 2/3 innings in the last two years combined.
Neither of these things are new problems to Dunn, who saw home run issues in his early years as well. For a hard-throwing reliever who allows a lot of fly balls, the occasional home run is not surprising at all. However, not all was bad. He posted a 12.6 percent swinging strike rate on all pitches, and his fastball induced a better number of whiffs per swing than it did last year. The problem was all in his slider, which decreased in effectiveness this year. Dunn may not be far off from seeing improvement in a bounce-back 2016 season.
Morris is another example of a guy with mediocre stuff who does better in the bullpen, but one who still has not found great success. He followed up his strong second half post-trade in 2014 with a worse year in 2015 with the Fish. His strikeout rate fell to 17 percent while he walked the same percentage of men that A.J. Ramos did. Of course, Morris does not have Ramos's towering strikeout rate, nor does he have the stuff to induce such a rate; hitters made contact on 76 percent of his pitches swung at this year.
Still, Morris did pitch better last year in Miami, and his swinging strike rate of 11.7 percent portends to mildly better things in the future. Dunn had strikeout rates of above 20 percent with similar swinging strike rates back in the early 2010's, and Morris has the benefit of inducing a lot of grounders (61 percent this season) when hitters do make contact. He may not be worth a contract tender, but the Marlins could at least look at him as an early-innings option if they do tender him.
The Marlins had two primarily grounder-based relief options, and they traded seemingly the wrong one away. Dyson was dealt to the Texas Rangers for catcher prospect Tomas Telis and another minor leaguer. It was a decent haul for the Fish for what seemed like an interchangeable reliever, as Dyson had done nothing in parts of three seasons to entice the Marlins to keep him. However, at least in his most recent stay, he did increase his strikeout numbers to a 21.6 percent rate, the highest it had been as a Marlin. Dyson was finally starting to make hitters miss with his primarily sinker-changeup combination. In addition to a nasty 64 percent grounder rate, Dyson got whiffs on 11.1 percent of his total pitches, a number equivalent to Morris. His changeup, in particular, was working better, with a 33 percent whiff rate per swing.
Of course, after the trade, he started dominating in a brief stint with the Rangers, making the Marlins look silly for trading him instead of Dunn or Morris. Still, Dyson was no one special and it is likely he will remain this way, and the reality is that he may have been at best slightly better than Morris heading into the deal.
If you had never heard of Brian Ellington before this season, you would be excused. He was drafted in the 16th round of the 2012 draft, and his use was primarily as a reliever. He earned himself a role with the revamped bullpen after the Sam Dyson deal, as the Marlins had to fill a few more positions in the bullpen as a result of moving Dyson and Steve Cishek. Ellington was called up thanks to 43 strong Double-A innings in which he posted a 2.51 ERA and 2.09 FIP with a 27.8 percent strikeout rate and 7.7 percent walk rate. Those numbers are indeed impressive.
They also never showed up in the bigs, as Ellington could not get the strikeouts he was generating against Double-A talent. He did throw hard, averaging 97.5 mph out of the hand, but he primarily threw fastballs. His secondary pitch, a slurve-type offering, was used only 20 percent of the time. That secondary offering did not exactly land in the strike zone or fool many hitters either, garnering a 4.6 balls to called strike ratio and just an 11 percent whiff rate.
|Kyle Barraclough||24 1/3||30.6||17.4||2.59||3.42||0.4|
Barraclough was the relief prospect the Marlins received for Steve Cishek from the St. Louis Cardinals, and he came here with a pretty typical relief profile. He threw hard (96 mph average fastball out of hand) and struck out plenty of batters in Double-A (24.8 percent) with a ton of walks (17.7 percent). He was your typical hard-throwing no-control guy who worked relief in college and dominated on stuff but struggled at the professional level. Miami did get some reasonable numbers from him at the big league level in 24 innings, but he still displayed a ton of control issues. He will get another chance to play at the big league level next year, but do not be surprised if he struggles.