The Marlins are already evaluating what pieces they have for next season, with special attention being paid to the rotation after an inconsistent year to say the least. While being part of the problem with regards to inconsistency, José Ureña is starting to pitch well more often, as was evident last night.
Facing the Washington Nationals, the juggernaut of the NL East, the young right-hander allowed only one run on three hits over eight innings, almost going toe-to-toe with Gio Gonzalez, who nearly threw a no-hitter. He struck out six, his third-highest total in a start this season, and walked one, helping to reduce his WHIP to 1.22, 23rd-best in baseball for qualified pitchers.
It was Ureña's eighth quality start in 17 attempts, second to only Dan Straily's nine in 22 starts. On the surface, it would appear as though the Marlins are finally getting the best out of José Ureña in 2017, his third year of pitching at the major league level, but there is still room to improve for the 26-year-old.
As mentioned at the start of the article, Ureña is still struggling with consistency. He has allowed five earned runs or more in four starts this season, and even had a six-walk game back in April. Last night was the first time that the righty has pitched more than six innings, which is mainly due to the high pitch counts he racks up because of a lack of command at times.
Another cause for concern is that Ureña currently has a FIP (an advanced measure of run prevention) of 4.96, which would nearly be rated as ‘awful’ by last year's standards across baseball. In short, his very low BABIP of .244 is having a large impact on his productivity, and it will be unsustainable in the long run.
However, Ureña is trending upwards, and he is doing a good job of picking up the slack in a rotation plagued by injuries. At the same time, he is proving to be one of Miami's better starting pitchers and, at the moment, he is looking like he deserves a spot in the Opening Day rotation next season for the first time in his career.
With performances like last night, against one of the best teams in baseball, José Ureña has a bright future. If he can figure out how to string together longer streaks of effective starts, then the Marlins will have a good starting pitcher on their hands moving forward, possibly a middle-of-the rotation one, too.