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2022 Marlins Season Review: Tanner Scott

Evaluating the ups and downs of Tanner Scott’s first Marlins season.

Tanner Scott #66 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the ninth inning during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Miami Marlins at loanDepot park on Thursday, June 9, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Tanner Scott showed that he has the potential to be a dominant relief pitcher, but on his worst days, Scott was at the center of some excruciating Marlins losses.

2022 Timeline

  • April 3: acquired from Orioles in four-player trade
  • April 23: records first Marlins save
  • June: settles in as Marlins’ regular closer
  • Early September: removed from closer’s role

Scott was heavily used this season. He led the Marlins in relief appearances (67), games finished (35) and saves (20). With the club’s playoff chances hanging by a thread in early July, he pitched nine times in a span of 14 days. He was miscast as a top bullpen arm because the Marlins were reluctant to invest what was required to get reliable veterans to deploy in the later innings.

At first glance, Scott’s appeal seemed pretty simple: upper-90s fastball velocity with a 2,500 rpm spin rate from the left side is difficult to find. But in April, he leaned on his slider 79.5% of the time, by far the highest single-month breaking ball usage rate of his MLB career. From Opening Day through May 2, the slider was his primary weapon in every outing. He gradually backed away from that extreme, and by September, he was doing a 50/50 mix of fastballs and sliders.

Scott’s 2022 month-by-month pitch usage
Scott’s 2022 month-by-month pitch usage
Baseball Savant

Scott’s worst moment of the year would have to be allowing a walk-off, three-run home run to Phillies backup catcher Garrett Stubbs on June 15. In hindsight, it was something of a turning point—he was on pace for a career-best 2.87 FIP prior to that, but posted a 4.18 FIP from June 15 onward (MLB average was 3.97).

No qualified reliever in the majors walked opponents more frequently than Scott (15.9 BB%). You could understand the multiple free passes he issued to star righties Ronald Acuña Jr., Pete Alonso and Mike Trout, but there were plenty of head-scratching ones to non-threatening batters. Riley Adams? Matt Duffy? Michael Pérez?!

Walks were prevalent regardless of whether Scott pitched at home or on the road, at day or night, against lefties or righties, with no rest or ample rest, to Jacob Stallings or Nick Fortes, etc. The majority of his walks came on low, gloveside misses that did not look like strikes for long enough to entice chases out of the zone.

Scott’s 2022 Statcast percentile rankings
Scott’s 2022 Statcast percentile rankings
Baseball Savant

Among all Marlins pitchers, only Elieser Hernandez and Trevor Rogers finished behind Scott in win probability added, per FanGraphs (1.89 WPA).

Thanks to his availability and accumulation of saves, Tanner Scott is due a solid pay raise in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors projects an increase from $1.05 million in 2022 to $2.7 million in 2023. The Marlins have already cut their losses with Cole Sulser—the other reliever acquired from Baltimore—but they remain intrigued enough about Scott’s upside to tender him a contract.

Even this version of Scott with severe control issues is a shoo-in to make the Marlins active roster. It should go without saying, however, that the Marlins ought to find several established relievers to slot ahead of him in high-leverage situations.