In a year with so much uncertainty, major league clubs—especially the Marlins—had to often reach deep into their player pool to fill out their roster. Right-hander Nick Vincent, who signed on June 29 (just as summer camp was beginning), became a surprising important piece for the Marlins. Vincent was elevated to the active roster on August 3 after a COVID-19 outbreak decimated their bullpen. From there, he stuck around for the rest of 2020. While a 34 year-old relief pitcher whose career ERA is around 3.40 may not have any long-term role for the Fish, Vincent proved himself useful during this unique 60-game season.
Vincent did spend spring training with the San Francisco Giants before being let go on June 26. Despite his age (34), Vincent continued to look for a spot on the team and wanted to prove that he still has what it takes to be a major league contributor.
The Marlins had 12 relievers on their active roster to begin the regular season, but within a matter of days, 8 of them were sidelined by the virus. By necessity, Vincent was called up from the alternate training site.
His first appearance came on Aug. 5 vs Orioles where he pitched 1 1⁄3 innings and allowed 0 hits and only one walk. Early in the year, Vincent looked like he belonged in the majors.
But as the season progressed, management lost faith. Vincent had a couple of his worst games during the final regular season road trip, giving up six total earned runs in his two appearances against the Braves and Yankees. He had a 5.40 ERA in September and wasn’t even included on the 28-man roster for the NL Wild Card Series against the Cubs. However, Vincent did pitch in NLDS Game 3 (once the Marlins already trailed by a large margin).
As the graphic above indicates, Vincent struggled across the board with the quality of his stuff and kind of contact he allowed to opponents. His solid run prevention numbers were helped by some lucky breaks during the season.
Just like in 2019, Vincent relied mostly on his four-seam fastball (used 48% of the time) and cutter (35%), though his changeup usage went up from 3% to 8%.
Used regularly during the season, Vincent pitched over 22 innings, ranking in the top four for Marlins relievers. A stat which did impress over the course of the season was Vincent's ability to limit walks as his walk percentage (6.5 BB%). That made it easier to avoid big innings by preventing his opponents from getting unnecessary baserunners.
- Vincent’s 33.8% ground ball rate was tied with Elieser Hernandez for the lowest on the Marlins pitching staff (among those with min. 20 IP).
- He recorded three strikeouts apiece on Sept. 4, Sept. 8 and Sept. 16 but only eight strikeouts in all other appearances combined.
Vincent shouldn't be a big priority for the Marlins as there are many options in free agency, including the possibility of re-signing other players for the 2021 season. Now 34 years old and coming off back-to-back 4.30+ ERA seasons, he may find it difficult to get a guaranteed major league deal from any team.
I do not see Vincent returning in 2021 due to age, declining talent and the Marlins youth movement.