Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the top 100 Marlins of all-time. For comparison’s sake, we are using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric as a measuring device. The top 100 WAR ratings are being featured. Today’s Marlin, Thomas R. Koehler, earned 3.6 while with the Marlins.
Tom Koehler is a 6’3”, 235 lb. right-handed pitcher from Bronx, New York. Born on June 29th, 1986, the Marlins picked him in the 18th round of the 2008 amateur draft, with the 538th overall selection. Also picked that round were fellow right-handed future major leaguers Allen Webster, Collin McHugh, Nick Vincent, and Tyler Cloyd, as well as left-handers Jeff Beliveau and Brian Flynn.
Koehler reported to the Jamestown Jammers in the low-A New York Penn League after his selection, where he started in 13 of his 15 appearances and posted a 5-5 record, a 3.68 ERA, 58 whiffs in 66.0 innings, and a 1.439 WHIP. He also got through the entire season without giving up a home run.
Koehler found himself on the fast track to the majors in 2009, and would complete the next two levels of minor league ball before the season was over. After going 5-5 over 18 starts with the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the single-A South Atlantic League (3.20 ERA, 1.292 WHIP, 82 K’s in 98.1 innings), he joined the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads for six starts (4-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, 25 strikeouts in 34.2 innings).
Koehler had a smashing season for the Jacksonville Suns in the double-A Southern League in 2010, leading the circuit in wins by going 16-2 over 28 rotation starts, posting a 2.61 ERA, a 1.172 WHIP, and racking up a league second 145 strikeouts in 158.2 innings.
2011, 2012, and part of 2013 would see Koehler percolating for the New Orleans Zephyrs at the triple-A level in the Pacific Coast League. Over 59 starts at the level, he went 24-20 with a 4.44 ERA, a 1.437 WHIP, and struck out 272 in 324.1 innings.
In September 2012, Koehler got his first callup to the majors, and appeared in eight games down the stretch for the Marlins. In his second appearance, on September 17th, he struck out five over two innings of relief in a 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He got his first start in the last game of the season, allowing three runs over five innings in a 4-2 loss to the New York Mets. He ended the season with a 1.275 WHIP and a 5.40 ERA over 13.1 innings, whiffing 13 and earning an 0-1 record.
Koehler didn’t start the 2013 campaign in Miami’s rotation, but joined it in mid-May after a few weeks in New Orleans and six major league relief appearances. He got his first major league win on June 20th, allowing one run on three hits over seven innings in a 2-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants. On September 15th, Koehler pitched a gem against the New York Mets, allowing two singles, a double, and nothing else over eight innings, striking out five in an eventual, 1-0, 12-inning loss.
Koehler began the 2014 season as Miami’s number five rotation starter, but through the season, was one of two pitchers (with Nathan Eovaldi) to not miss any starts. Over 32 games, he went 10-10 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.296 WHIP, striking out a team-high 153 in 191.1 innings. He allowed less than or equal hits as innings pitched in 19 of his appearances.
On April 15th, Koehler pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, striking out three Nationals in a 2-1 win over Washington. May 2nd would see him go head-to-head with former Marlins’ ace Josh Beckett, and come away with a 6-3 victory. Koehler struck out four over seven shutout innings, giving up just two walks in his third win of the season.
In Koehler’s next start, he earned a no decision despite pitching eight shutout innings, striking out five and allowing just two base hits in a 1-0 victory over the New York Mets. 10 days later, he earned a 5-0 win against the Giants, giving up just four hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out seven.
Koehler was far and away Miami’s most dependable pitcher in 2015, starting 31 times (second best Dan Haren started 21 games). Koehler posted an 11-14 record and a 4.08 ERA, with a 1.372 WHIP and 137 whiffs over 187.2 innings pitched. On June 15th, in a 2-1 Marlins win over the New York Yankees, Koehler alllowed one run on three hits, striking out five over seven innings for his fifth win of the season. On July 23rd, Koehler notched win number eight for the year by going seven shutout innings, striking out as many batters and allowing just three hits in a 4-0 triumph against the San Diego Padres.
Koehler again led the team in starts in 2016, taking 33 turns in the rotation and filing a 9-13 record, a 4.33 ERA, a 1.466 WHIP, and 147 whiffs in 176.2 innings. Through a lot of the season, Koehler hovered near the league leaders in walks allowed per nine innings before settling down and finishing at a thankfully less remarkable 4.2 given up per nine. His best start of the season was probably his win on August 9th, when he struck out six and allowed two harmless singles over seven innings to defeat the Giants, 2-0.
So far for Miami, Koehler has gone 35-48 over 120 starts, which ranks him 11th on the Marlins’ all-time wins leaderboard. He’s posted a 4.16 ERA, a 1.370 WHIP, and struck out 542 in 711.2 innings. He’s currently under team control for this season and next, and is currently listed as Miami’s number four starter going into spring training.