Dan Straily is in a weird spot this year for the Marlins. The 30-year-old has been back end of the rotation quality for most of his career in the majors. He owns zero seasons with an earned run average below 3.50.
While Straily used to be useful as an innings eater who could hold the thin Fish pitching staff together, he’s being squeezed out in 2019 by a wave of electric, inexpensive starters.
2018 MLB Stats: 4.12 ERA, 5.11 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 99 K in 122.1 IP
2019 ZiPS Projection: 5.04 ERA, 5.34 FIP, 1.43 WHIP, 113 K in 135.2 IP
Straily and right-hander Luis Castillo are permanently linked to one another. For reasons that remain unclear, the Marlins were determined to trade Castillo once he emerged as their farm system’s most promising power arm. Selling high on Straily coming off his solid 2016 campaign, the Reds accepted Castillo as the centerpiece of the trade. He has quickly demonstrated more potential for missing bats than the veteran ever did, a frustrating reminder to Fish fans of the old regime’s incompetence.
He's as filthy as it gets.— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) March 4, 2019
24 days til real baseball, and a real big bounce-back season from Luis Castillo! pic.twitter.com/SVonCFAeBy
While Castillo continues to improve, Straily is not projected to do the same. The National League East will be treacherous for pitchers this season, particularly for those who lack the tools to escape jams via strikeout. The Oregon native has allowed 82 home runs since 2016, the highest total of anybody in the NL, and he’s been somewhat fortunate that those haven’t resulted in more total runs against him.
Without special fastball velocity, Straily relies on deception and smart sequencing. He is an intellectual who leans on technology to help him overachieve, as detailed by the Miami Herald last summer.
Dan Straily, 91mph Fastball and 84mph Slider, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/y1HdtWQ0qe— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 5, 2018
The Marlins have their fingers crossed that Straily’s luck holds up through the first half of 2019. His $5 million salary is very movable at the trade deadline if he can keep fly balls in the field of play and benefit from having quality fielders behind him.
This spring, Straily is focused more on experimentation than results, so no reason to overreact to nine earned runs and six homers allowed in 11 1⁄3 innings pitched. Regardless of how he performs, his veteran guidance and willingness to take the ball every fifth day carry some value for a rebuilding club.