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2021 Marlins Season Preview: Dylan Floro

The Marlins cheaped out on re-signing Brandon Kintzler, but quickly pivoted to Floro who might be a superior reliever moving forward.

RHP Dylan Floro

Opening Day age: 30 | Bats: left | Throws: right | Listed at 6-2, 203 lbs.

Acquired by Marlins from Dodgers via trade (February 12, 2021)

Back in 2017, Dylan Floro was designated for assignment four times in the same year and hobbled onto the open market as a run-of-the-mill minor league free agent. So how did he get here, a World Series champion who the Marlins reportedly targeted “for more than two months” before pulling the trigger on a deal that cost them two notable pitching prospects?

Floro began establishing himself as a big leaguer with the trainwreck 2018 Reds. He was recalled from Triple-A in mid-April when the club had gotten off to a 2-10 start (within a week, manager Bryan Price would lose his job). After excelling in mop-up duty, he was gradually rewarded with increasingly high-leverage opportunities. On Jul. 4, the Dodgers—who had DFA’d him less than a year before—traded for him to beef up their bullpen. They optioned Floro to the minors on a couple occasions and he was sidelined briefly in 2019 due to a left intercostal strain strain, but for the most part, he stuck on their active roster.

I see Floro as a younger, more controllable version of former Marlins closer Brandon Kintzler. They possess similar sinker/slider/changeup pitch mixes, though Floro gets slightly more oomph on his fastball at this stage of his career (averaged 93.4 mph in 2020). Since his emergence with the Reds, Floro’s ground ball rate over that span is actually one percent higher than Kintzler’s.

Baseball Savant

Floro was pretty predictable with his secondary pitches last season. All 117 sliders he threw were to right-handed batters, and with few exceptions, the changeup was reserved for lefties. Hard to argue with the results, though—opponents were unable to square him up as reflected by his elite barrel rate, hard hit rate and average exit velocity allowed.

With all that being said, it’s a bit premature to celebrate from the Marlins’ perspective. If the Dodgers were confident in Floro sustaining his 2018-2020 production, why would they be willing to part with him in a move that didn’t even clear a 40-man roster spot (they took Alex Vesia back in return)? A key to the Dodgers being so consistently great for much of the past decade has been “winning” under-the-radar trades like this.

What’s next?

2021 ZiPS projection: 3.92 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 0.5 fWAR

2021 PECOTA projection (50th percentile): 3.60 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 1.26 WHIP, 0.3 WARP

Joseph Guzy/Miami Marlins

Regular season and postseason combined, all 158 of Floro’s career appearances in the majors have been in a relief role. However, he has yet to be trusted with any save opportunities in the ninth inning (charged with three blown saves as a setup man). He’d like to change that.

“Anybody that’s in the bullpen would want to have that chance [to close],” Floro said during his first Marlins media availability, “and I feel like I can do it to help this ballclub.”

However, being a Kintzler clone does not automatically give him top priority. Anthony Bass and Yimi García both edge out Floro in terms of MLB experience and swing-and-miss potential. The Marlins have more money invested in them for 2021, which also makes them likelier trade candidates come June and July if the team has fallen out of the postseason race. In that scenario, it would behoove Miami to have Bass or García work as closer to “audition” them for contenders. So at least initially, Floro is expected to slot behind them on the depth chart.

Despite being successful in 2020, Floro had some trouble throwing first-pitch strikes (career-low 55.1%). I’m curious what sort of advice the Marlins coaches have to steady him in that department.

If for whatever reason Floro goes completely off the rails for an extended period, the Marlins do have the flexibility to option him to the minors to regroup.


Over/Under 2.5 saves for Dylan Floro this season?

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