Visit this page for Fish Stripes’ full preview of the 2022 Miami Marlins season.
To continue the 2022 season preview series, we head back to the bullpen with Zach Pop.
Left unprotected by the Baltimore Orioles entering the 2020 Rule 5 draft, Pop was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks and flipped to the Marlins the same day for a player to be named later. The Miami Marlins sent Tyler Jones the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade.
Pop is now entering his second season in the major leagues (second with Miami). He has at least 5 years of club control remaining—through 2026—but the Marlins can gain an additional year if they option him to the minors for an extended period of time. Pop will get a pay raise from his rookie season thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement which set the MLB minimum salary at $700,000.
The University of Kentucky product impressed many in 2021. Despite skipping the Triple-A level in his development, Pop had a 1-0 record, 4.12 ERA, 51 strikeouts, and 1.427 WHIP. He gained experience in a wide variety of situations, entering games as early as the 2nd inning and as late as the 9th.
Pop was especially impressive in the second half of the season, posting a low 1.90 ERA. Thanks to the sinking action on his fastball, he didn’t allow any home runs after the All-Star break.
There were some early-season struggles, but it became clear pretty quickly that Pop had enough upside to justify his spot on the Marlins active roster. Aside from time missed with a minor finger injury, he was part of their bullpen throughout 2021.
2022 Season Projections/Expectations
As the Marlins look to compete in 2022, they have kept their bullpen group mostly the same from last season. They are putting trust in guys like Pop to take another step forward in their development.
The ATC projections have Pop posting similar numbers to 2021 (2-2, 4.12 ERA, 49 SO, and 1.38 WHIP).
Barring a last-minute signing or trade for a veteran reliever, I personally expect Pop to see an increase in high-leverage opportunities. He is below Dylan Floro, Anthony Bender, Richard Bleier and Anthony Bass on the depth chart for now, but he has the potential to move up quickly. Hopefully his command will improve with him being another year removed from Tommy John surgery.
Bold Prediction: Zach Pop will lead all Marlins relievers in games won and will hold the lowest ERA.
Over/Under 50.5 strikeouts for Zach Pop this season?
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