Whether it was Giancarlo Stanton stepping up to the plate in a high-leverage situation, Martin Prado trying to beat out a ground ball, or Heath Bell warming up in the bullpen, many situations over the years have caused Marlins fans to break out in a cold sweat. To celebrate Halloween—fashionably late, admittedly—we are going to look back on two Marlins who gave fans some of the biggest frights in terms of their performances.
Personally, the worst nightmares stretch back a few years. Growing up in Broward county, I attended a lot of Marlins games between 2006 and 2009. The games were easily accessible and affordable, and I was at the age when I truly started to understand the game. During that time, going to four out of six games in a homestand in the summer would not be out of the question. Outside of the championship-winning years, they were some of the most exciting and promising years in franchise history. A young but unproven core battled it out every night against more highly-touted opposition—not too unlike the current Marlins team—and it all culminated in 87-75 2009 season before a refusal from Jeffrey Loria to spend money led to the roster breaking up.
Over that period, though, the Marlins had some terrible relievers, arguably none were worse than Jorge Julio. After posting a 4.23 ERA over 66 innings in 2006, acquiring Julio was a decent yet uninspiring move. However, the Venezuelan would only make ten appearances for the Marlins, and they were memorable for all the wrong reasons. His 12.54 ERA, 3.11 WHIP, 10.6 BB/9 in 9.1 IP would send a shiver down anyone’s spine. The Marlins were spooked, and in six weeks Julio went from starting closer to trade bait, where he actually posted a sub-4.00 ERA for the rest of the season in Colorado.
For whatever reason, his terrible time in South Florida was a major outlier over his career, but fans are still haunted by it to this day.
You may have thought that a 3.62 ERA over five seasons would have spared one of the franchise’s longest tenured bullpen pieces from this list, but you are wrong. In true Jekyll and Hyde fashion, we never knew which Renyel Pinto we were going to get when he was called into action. While he didn’t always surrender runs and blow leads, the lefty loved to extend innings. His stress-inducing tactics included wild pitches (20 total, 11th-most in franchise history and tied for first among relievers), hitting batters (14, third for relievers behind Antonio Alfonseca and AJ Ramos), and granting free passes (5.92 BB/9, worst in franchise history for pitchers who have completed 200 frames). Acquired in the Juan Pierre trade in 2005, Pinto was ironically released by the Marlins during one of his better seasons in 2010, and never appeared on a major league mound again.
Who else should have been on this list? Maybe some arms from the awful 2019 ‘pen? Feel free to join the conversation below!