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2017 Season Preview: Marlins Bullpen

What can we expect from the bolstered bullpen unit?

Photo: Al Diaz/Miami Herald

With a depleted starting rotation, the Marlins are going to rely on their bullpen to be one of the best in the NL. Miami acquired a couple of pitchers in the offseason which help give them one of the deepest bullpens in the MLB. The Marlins will have eight pitchers in the bullpen, as opposed to having the more standard total of seven pitchers. Let’s take a closer look at this year’s bullpen.

Brad Ziegler

After failing to acquire big-name pitchers like Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, Miami settled with Ziegler, who is a solid Plan C. Ziegler compiled an ERA of 2.25 last season, and that includes having a 1.52 ERA while with the Boston Red Sox. Over his career, the 37-year-old is 34-28 with a 2.44 ERA and 403 strikeouts. He also has 85 saves, which means he can close a game every once in a while. Last year, Ziegler had a career-best 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings while with Boston. The side-armer is a consistent pitcher who should pitch at least 60 innings for Miami. Ziegler has been very strong the last two years, as he compiled a WHIP of 0.96 and an ERA of 1.85 in 2015. As mentioned above, Ziegler pitched very well last season, especially with the Red Sox. Expect for Ziegler to be a key cog in the Marlins bullpen this season.

ZiPS Projections: 4-3, 3.57 ERA, 58 IP, 6.83 K/9, 3.10 BB/9, 0.2 WAR

David Phelps

Phelps excelled as a starting pitcher and as pitcher out of the bullpen last year. Phelps had a career-high 114 strikeouts. He compiled a career-best WHIP of 1.14 and ERA of 2.28. Phelps could be Miami’s utility pitcher, where he can pitch in almost every situation. Phelps is similar to Cleveland’s Andrew Miller, who pitched in all kinds of situations in last year’s playoffs. Phelps had a WAR of 1.9, and he compiled a FIP of 2.80. With a weak starting rotation, Phelps is going to be crucial for Miami this season. He will have to pitch in many different situations this season, and he’s more than capable of fulfilling that role. Expect to see Phelps a lot of times this season, because Miami will be relying on him to be Miami’s Andrew Miller (Ed. Note: Just not, you know, 2010 Andrew Miller).

ZiPS Projections: 3-3, 3.50 ERA, 64.3 IP, 7.27 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, 0.2 WAR

A.J. Ramos

Like he did last season, Ramos will serve as the team’s closer. Ramos was an All-Star last season, and if he could replicate his success from last season that would take a lot of pressure off of the rest of the bullpen. Ramos recorded 40 saves for the Marlins last season. At times, Ramos could get wild, and he was also inconsistent during the season. During the first half of the season, Ramos looked like one of the top closers in the league. The Marlins will need a full season from Ramos in order to be successful. He compiled a 2.25 ERA before the All-Star break, but he saw that number balloon to 3.54 after the All-Star break. He only blew three save opportunities, and the Marlins would certainly love to see that happen again. Ramos has several talented pitchers around him, but Miami will need him at his best this year.

ZiPS Projections: 3-2, 3.02 ERA, 62.7 IP, 37 SV, 10.48 K/9, 4.74 BB/9, 0.7 WAR

Kyle Barraclough

In his first full season with the Marlins, Barraclough was an excellent set-up pitcher for the Marlins. He compiled an ERA of 2.85, and a WHIP of 1.22. He struck out 113 batters, and he only allowed one home run. Barraclough pitched 72.2 innings for Miami last season. The Marlins will need consistent pitching again from Barraclough, and he’s more than capable of doing that. He will be an important set-up pitcher for the Marlins, as there might be times when he’s asked to pitch in earlier innings. Miami would love if Barraclough could strike out as many as 113 batters again this season. In short, Barraclough will be asked to pick up the starters, just like some of the other pitchers in the bullpen.

ZiPS Projections: 5-3, 3.07 ERA, 73.3 IP, 12.89 K/9, 5.65 BB/9, 1.0 WAR

Junichi Tazawa

Along with Ziegler, Tazawa was another pitcher that Miami signed to bolster their bullpen. For his career, Tazawa has struck out 308 batters and he’s compiled a WHIP of 1.26. Tazawa didn’t have a great season last year, as he pitched to an ERA of 4.17. His BB/9 and HR/9 increased from 2015. However, his K/9 also increased from 2015. Tazawa hasn’t been anything special in the last two years, but this could be a year that he breaks out again. Tazawa is surrounded by talented pitchers, which means he won’t be forced to pitch that many innings. Miami will hope that he can bounce back, because they’ll need all the success they can get out of their pitching.

ZiPS Projections: 4-3, 3.46 ERA, 54.7 IP, 9.22 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, 0.6 WAR

Jose Ureña

Ureña has traditionally been a starter over his career, but since he’s out of options, he’s been moved to the bullpen. Ureña has shown some promise, and he could be a good pitcher to use when the starter is struggling mightily. Over his career, Ureña has struggled, as he’s compiled an ERA of 5.76. Ureña hasn’t produced consistent numbers, but he’s shown his upside. He’s only 25-years-old, and he could potentially join the starting rotation in the middle of the season. Ureña is prone to giving up a lot of runs, and he’s always been inconsistent. Miami wasn’t going to let him get picked up by another team, which is why their giving him another chance in the bullpen.

ZiPS Projections: 8-9, 4.64 ERA, 130.0 IP, 6.02 K/9, 2.91 BB/9, 0.8 WAR

Dustin McGowan

McGowan was brought back to Miami on a one-year deal, and he is providing depth for Miami’s bullpen. McGowan was solid last season, as he had a 2.82 ERA with 63 strikeouts. McGowan will be looking to throw more changeups to right-handed hitters, according to the Sun Sentinel. McGowan had his most productive season since 2013, and he could be used especially if a pitcher is hurt or is struggling. McGowan did pitch 67 innings last year, but he probably won’t be seen as much this season. Still, McGowan will provide depth for the bullpen.

ZiPS Projections: 3-2, 3.67 ERA, 61.3 IP, 8.22 K/9, 4.40 BB/9, 0.0 WAR

Nick Wittgren

Much like McGowan, Wittgren will most likely provide depth, but he made the roster because of his solid season last year. Wittgren compiled a WHIP of 1.16 and an ERA of 3.14. He struck out 42 batters and he allowed 10 walks in 51.2 innings pitched. Wittgren is only 25, which means he has the potential to get better as his career progresses. Wittgren will take some stress off of the top relievers, as he can pitch when the top pitchers are in need of rest. Wittgren might not be spectacular, but he’ll give Miami an extra pitcher in the bullpen.

ZiPS Projections: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 64.7 IP, 7.52 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, 0.2 WAR