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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 115

Pitchers, pitchers, everywhere!

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have employed 630 players for at least one plate appearance or batter faced through their first 28 seasons of major leaguing e play.

In our offseason-long series, we’re touching on all of them in sequence. We’re currently in the final bracket, comprised of players with 800 or more PA/BF with the franchise. Players are sorted in ascending bWAR value, divided by PA/BF. Today’s group of three starting pitchers, ranked 78, 77, and 76, all finished somewhat above replacement level. All prospect rankings are courtesy of Baseball America. Statistics were culled from BA, Baseball-Reference, and The Baseball Cube.

78. Pat Rapp

Pat Rapp is a six-foot-three right-hander from Jennings, Louisiana. In 1989, he got his professional career started in earnest when the San Francisco Giants chose him in the 15th round out of the University of Southern Mississippi.

Rapp graduated to the major leagues with San Francisco in 1992, and allowed eight runs in 10 innings of work. Having not yet spent his rookie eligibility, the Marlins chose him with the 10th pick in the 1992 expansion draft following the season.

In early-July of 1993, Rapp made his Marlins debut with a start and a loss to the Colorado Rockies, but struck out four and came within one out of a “Quality Start,” surrendering three runs in 5 23 innings. He more-or-less remained in the Marlins’ rotation for four years afterward.

Although his 4-6 record, his 4.02 ERA, and his 1.489 WHIP had him firmly in the middle of the pack through his rookie campaign, his 106 ERA+ was indicative of a slightly better than National League average pitcher. He also had his best season at the plate, going six-for-31 with a double and two RBI.

Florida Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

In 1994, Rapp finished second on the Marlins in victories and innings pitched, with a 7-8 record in 133 13 innings. He posted a 3.85 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP, and walked nearly a batter per strikeout, with 69 and 75, respectively. Still, his 113 ERA+ was a significant margin better than league average.

Rapp was at his best on July 22, again versus Colorado. He pitched a three-hit shutout, striking out eight while using only 114 pitches. I’m sensing a pattern here, as Rapp also had the best start of his career against the Rockies just over a season later. On September 17, 1995, he pitched a one-hitter, whiffing seven and walking only one in a 17-0 Marlins victory.

Speaking of the 1995 campaign, Rapp put up career-best figures in a lot of categories, including wins with a 14-7 record, ERA, with 3.44, H/9, with 8.5, and WHIP, with a mark of 1.40. His win-total matched John Burkett for the team lead, and he led the team with 0.5 HR/9. Rapp’s 3.2 bWAR would remain the best such mark of his career.

Rapp regressed to replacement level in 1996, leading the NL in losses with an 8-16 record. He posted a 5.10 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP, allowing his ERA+ to drop below average for the first time in his career, at 80. After starting the 1997 season 4-6 with a 4.47 ERA through 19 starts, the Marlins traded Rapp back to the Giants for minor leaguers Brandon Leese and Bobby Rector.

Rapp finished the 1997 season with the Giants, and later spent a year each in the respective rotations of the Kansas City Royals, the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Anaheim Angels.

Rapp currently stands in 10th on the Marlins all-time leaderboard with 37 wins, ninth with 115 starts and 665 23 innings pitched, and 13th with 384 strikeouts.

77. Jack Armstrong

Six-five right-handed pitcher Jack Armstrong is a native of Englewood, New Jersey. In 1986, he was drafted in the third round by the Giants out of Rider University, but didn’t sign. The following year, he was a first round choice of the Cincinnati Reds, 18th overall out of the University of Oklahoma.

Armstrong got to the major leagues with the Reds in 1998, and went 25-32 through 72 turns in the rotation over the next four seasons. In 1990, he made the NL All Star team, when he was 12-9 with a 3.42 ERA. He then went 6-15 as a swingman for the Cleveland Indians in 1992. Like Rapp, he made his way to the Marlins via expansion draft. Armstrong was selected with the 39th choice.

Armstrong was only a part of the Marlins rotation for one season, where he pitched in as the number two starter after Charlie Hough. A workhorse during his years in Cincinnati, his season in Florida would prove no exception. He pitched a team-second 196 13 innings, striking out 118 and posting a 9-17 record with a 4.49 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. His 95 ERA+ suggests that he was just a smidge below average, but he did finish with 1.6 bWAR.

Florida Marlins Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

At the plate, Armstrong went 10-for-66 with a double and three RBI for Florida. His best game for the Marlins was his first win, on April 17. He lasted eight innings, and allowed two runs on three hits while whiffing eight Astros in a 9-4 victory against Houston.

After the season, the Marlins granted Armstrong’s free agency, and he went on to sign with the Texas Rangers. He only appeared in two games for them, and didn’t appear again in the majors after April, 1994.

In 2000, Armstrong signed a minor league deal with the Marlins on a comeback attempt at the age of 35, but he only appeared in four games with the High-A Brevard County Manatees. In 2001 and 2002, he went 16-8 for the Newark Bears in the independent Atlantic League.

76. Nathan Eovaldi

Houston, Texas native Nathan Eovaldi is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher. In 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers took him out of high school in the 11th round.

Eovaldi got to the major leagues with LA in 2011, and racked up a 2-8 record over 16 starts between then and 2012. He struck out 57 and walked 40 in 91 innings. A week before the trade deadline that season, they sent him with Scott McGough to the Marlins for Randy Choate and Hanley Ramirez.

Eovaldi joined the Marlins rotation after his acquisition and started a dozen games through the end of the season. He was 3-7 with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. He struck out 44 and walked 27 in 63 innings, and put his pitches over the plate on 63 percent of his offerings. On September 18, he struck out five and kept the Braves scoreless through eight innings, earning no decision in a 4-3 Marlins victory.

Between 2013 and 2014, Eovaldi started another 51 games for the Fish, going 10-20 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. He whiffed another 220 batters against 83 walks in 306 innings, while posting a solid 3.45 FIP. On August 10, 2013, Eovaldi limited Atlanta to one hit over seven shutout innings, striking out eight and again getting saddled with no decision in an eventual 1-0 win against the Braves.

Although Eovaldi was undoubtedly an asset during his time with Miami, it wasn’t until he left that he truly started to blossom. After the 2014 season, they sent him with Domingo German and Garrett Jones to the Yankees for David Phelps, Martin Prado, and cash.

Eovaldi led the American League with an .824 winning percentage in his first season for the Bombers. He’s also since pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays and for the Boston Red Sox. Eovaldi will be entering the third year of a four-year, $68 million deal with Boston in 2021.

Check back tomorrow for a polydactyly-afflicted reliever and a recent substitute teacher who became a starting pitcher.