The Miami Marlins are hoping that 2015 is a good number for them as they look to contend in this upcoming year. But the Marlins' various pitchers are also looking to match or surpass certain important numbers to them, and we here at Fish Stripes are discussing all the important numbers as part of the 2015 Miami Marlins Season Preview. Here are the digits to look at for the pitchers.
Jose Fernandez, 07/01/2015
Fernandez has a lot of questions facing him this upcoming year. Just how good will he be after Tommy John surgery? Is he fully back? How much can he contribute this year to the Marlins' winning cause? But right now, the most important number for the Fish will be the date when he will return to the roster. The target is sometime around the All-Star break, but he could come by before the month of July start. That above date is the pivot point, and every start will matter for the Fish this year. However, Miami needs him back and healthy, so there should be no rush if he is not ready.
Henderson Alvarez, 3.70
Despite an excellent season by Alvarez last year, the number to watch is 3.70, which happened to be his SIERA last year. SIERA is an ERA retrodictor that uses strikeouts, walks, ground ball and fly ball rates to estimate a "deserved" ERA that is more predictive of the future. This appears to be a number that is similar to the expectations going into this season, as most of the projection systems have Alvarez's ERA and FIP at somewhere along those lines. Last year was Alvarez's best campaign, but even with all of his good fortune, he still managed just a 3.58 FIP. It is unlikely that, without a big skill change, he can continue a sub-3.00 ERA ace-level pace.
Mat Latos, 90.7
That is Latos's fastball velocity after years of staying at 92 mph consistently. A lot of the drop in velocity likely had to do with his elbow injury, but just because his elbow recovered does not mean he is a guarantee to regain velocity. Without that velocity, what Latos are we going to see? It is difficult to predict just how effective he will be losing two mph; pitchers tend to jump half a run in ERA with that kind of fall.
Jarred Cosart, 10.7
That is Cosart's career walk rate, made worse by a ridiculous 14.2 percent rate in his rookie campaign in 2013. Last year, his rate improved, but it was still high at 8.5 percent with the Marlins. Cosart has long had an issue with control, but he pounded the strike zone more often with the Marlins last year and did not lose much in terms of strikeouts. He has plenty of useful skills, but the Marlins need him to cut down on baserunners given his mediocre strikeout numbers.
Tom Koehler, 19.1
That was Koehler's strikeout rate last season, the highest of his starting pitching career in the bigs. It was a big improvement over the previous season and carried him to a league-average campaign. But can he continue whiffing hitters like he did in the minors despite a poor pedigree? Or will Koehler fall back to his expected ways and struggle as he did in 2013?
Dan Haren, 1.10
Now that Haren has committed to pitching for the Marlins this season, the Fish are hoping he puts up his usual 180 or so innings of work. One of the things that makes Miami appealing for him is the expansive outfield of Marlins Park. Haren has always had a predilection to giving up home runs, but Miami's huge distances and homer suppression may be good for him. Even with all of his struggles the last three years, he still has put up above-average strikeout-to-walk ratios, meaning he can be effective with fewer long balls. Maybe the team can help there.
Steve Cishek, 48
This was the percentage of sliders thrown by Cishek last season. This was the highest rate of sliders thrown in his career in any one season, and it showed that he had found a solution to the problem of lefties. He decided he would just throw sliders into their feet in order to get them out. It worked; he put up a 36 percent strikeout rate against lefties last season, and those hitters batted .209/.270/.316 (.261 wOBA) against him. He actually managed a reverse platoon split somehow! This cost him his ground balls, as Cishek threw a career-low ground ball rate, but it also upped his strikeouts and led to his best career FIP. Will this trend continue?
Mike Dunn, 3.09
Dunn gets a lot of flak from Marlins fans, seemingly because he gives up the occasional terrible inning. Yet in the last two seasons, he has allowed a pretty solid 2.89 ERA and 3.09 FIP indicative of his role as a setup man. Dunn upped his strikeout rate to a full season-best 27.4 percent while dropping his walks down to a nine percent on the year. He does not give up a lot of home runs and can face both lefties and righties moderately effectively, making him perfect for an eighth-inning all-encompassing role.
A.J. Ramos, 15.9
That was Ramos's ugly walk rate from last season, which combined with just a 27 percent strikeout rate to form a sketchy ratio that does not portend good things. If Ramos starts giving up more homers or a BABIP above his career .255 mark, he may be in a lot of trouble in the eighth inning.
Carter Capps, 2.35
Capps was limited by an elbow injury, but when he did play, he showed Marlins fans why the Fish acquired him for Logan Morrison. Capps whiffed 29.1 percent of batters, walked only 5.8 percent of them, and posted a 2.35 FIP in limited playing time. That should get him in the mix for an eighth inning role.
Bryan Morris, 2.28
That was the difference between Morris's ERA of 1.82 and his FIP of 4.10. His SIERA of 3.33 still indicates that he is closer to an average or above-average reliever than the superhuman with the 0.66 ERA with the Marlins. Morris should get an extended look, especially given his impressive 59 percent ground ball rate, but do not expect a repeat of the miracles he pulled off last year.
Brad Hand, 72
That is the ground ball rate Hand got out of his brand new sinker, a toy he whipped out after coming back from injury. Hand still posted bad strikeout and walk rates, but he worked on pitching more to contact than ever and limiting fly balls to an extreme. If he can avoid home runs, there is an off chance that he becomes a nice fifth starter candidate.
David Phelps, 90.4: That is the average velocity of the righty Phelps's fastball. Most of the time, right-handers work at a higher velocity, and Phelps is lacking that. He has moderate secondary stuff, but may be outclassed as a starting pitcher.
Aaron Crow, 2012: That is the year Crow was last a viable reliever, as he has had his numbers slip drastically over the last two seasons. Crow once had strikeout and a strong draft pedigree, but now he will struggle to hold onto a middle relief role.
Sam Dyson, 65: Dyson has a career ground ball rate of 65 percent, which certainly helps in keeping the ball in the park. He still needs to walk fewer guys and strike out a few more in order to be a good reliever, but the grounder rate is a huge head start.
Andrew McKirahan, 5: McKirahan is looking to be the second LOOGY for the Marlins after being selected in the Rule 5 draft from the Cubs. Can he stick on the roster?