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Three Marlins pitching records that could remain untouchable

Single-season marks set by José Fernández, Kevin Brown, Dontrelle Willis, and A.J. Burnett won’t be in danger anytime soon.

Any Marlins pitching records related to longevity seem attainable. The franchise has an unfortunate history of losing its aces far too soon via trade, free agency or otherwise. Perhaps that will finally change under current ownership.

But what about the dominance we’ve seen in individual seasons? Let’s take a look at the most untouchable numbers one by one.

1. A.J. Burnett (2002) and Dontrelle Willis (2005)—five shutouts

Nobody throws complete-game shutouts now. That’s the truth. Last year, there were only 26 among more than 4,500 games combined in the bigs. In fact, the last pitcher that blanked a rival five times during a regular season was Félix Hernández, back in 2012 (5).

I’m not talking about a no-hitter—that sometimes can be the result of a lucky, blessed day and not more than that. It’s FIVE shutouts. You have to be good, durable, dominant, and consistent.

For example, Burnett had a 3.30 ERA/204.1 IP season in 2002, while Dontrelle Willis recorded a 2.63 ERA across 236 13 frames. You have to be that dominant.

2. José Fernández (2016)—253 strikeouts

It’s been four years since José Fernández notched 253 punchouts during an amazing 2016 season. A tragic boating accident in the early hours of Sept. 25 ended his life prematurely and prevented him from padding that total.

Even so, no other Marlins pitcher has come anywhere near him in that department. Dan Straily registered 170 strikeouts in 2017. Caleb Smith was on pace for slightly more in 2019 prior to missing time with hip inflammation.

The Fish ranked 12th in the National League last year with 8.6 K/9. For this record to be broken anytime soon, somebody from their next wave of pitching prospects will need to demonstrate the kind of elite swing-and-miss ability that their current starters are lacking.

3. Kevin Brown (1996)—1.89 ERA

Can you imagine how many qualified pitchers have finished a season with a 1.89 ERA or better in the last 20 years? Only seven: Pedro Martínez, Roger Clemens, Clayton Kershaw (twice), Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, Jacob deGrom, and Blake Snell.

Kevin Brown started 32 games and threw 233 frames for Florida in ‘96. That heavy workload only added to the level of difficulty.

This might be the most difficult record for any future Fish pitcher to break. Generations from now, we could still be talking about Brown.

The Marlins will eventually get to the point that they’ll have to invest big. If they don’t develop an ace in the minors (and they do have ace potential in Sixto Sánchez and Max Meyer, for example), they’ll be forced to bring one aboard. At the end of the day, having at least one frontline starter is a huge requirement to win.