Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMiami MarlinsMLBNational LeagueNL East

Miami: Rotation Analysis

Entering the 2020 season, Miami has a tall task of competing in a highly competitive and supremely talented National League East. After struggling inside the division for the past five seasons the Marlins are hoping to be competitive in the near future as they come out of their rebuilding process. The undeniable highlight of the rebuild, thus far, has been their young starting pitching that has reached the major league ball club.

Miami’s projected rotation in 2020 consists of five young starters who were all acquired by the organization between July 2017 and Opening Day. The aggressive and blunt destruction of the Miami roster produced several high-level prospects, but none currently more exciting than the following members of their high upside pitching staff.

Sandy Alcantara

From Baseball Savant

The de facto ace of the staff is Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara was traded to the Miami from the St. Louis Cardinals, along with other prospects, for OF Marcell Ozuna after the 2017 season. Alcantara has shown flashes of excellence in the big leagues, pitching to a 3.83 ERA over three seasons and 38 starts.

In Alcantara’s first full season he narrowly missed out on a 200 IP season registering at 197.1 with a 6.89 K/9 and 1.05 HR/9 rate. In an increasingly home run happy league, Alcantara was able to limit the long ball to approximately 1 per nine innings. The biggest step Alcantara took in 2019 was cutting down significantly on his BB/9. Across 5 minor league seasons, Alcantara average a walk rate of 3.57 BB/9, but averaged 6.29 BB/9 in the big leagues prior to 2019. In 2019, Alcantara nearly halved his walk rate checking it at 3.69 BB/9 at the end of the season. This is a markedly positive improvement, but if Alcantara can lower it even further he will be very fun to watch this season and beyond.

Caleb Smith

Baseball Savant

Miami’s number two starter is projected to be LHP Caleb Smith. After the 2017 season, the New York Yankees traded SP Caleb Smith and 1B/OF Garrett Cooper to the Miami Marlins for future considerations and RHP Mike King. Smith made 28 starts for Miami in 2019, going 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA.

Smith is a complex case because he shows a high upside part of his game, but also has a few areas that need to be improved on in order to find sustained success in the MLB. Smith is a three-pitch pitcher relying on his fastball, slider, and changeup to get outs. Smith mixes his pitches well and possesses swing and miss stuff, demonstrated by his K rate of 9.86 K/9. However, Smith is giving up almost 2 HR/9 and has not gotten his walk rate below 3.5 BB/9 in the big leagues thus far. The Marlins may really have something in Smith if he and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre can develop some more consistent control in 2020.

Jordan Yamamoto

Baseball Savant

Jordan Yamamoto burst onto the scene during June of 2019 season. Yamamoto was acquired by the Marlins in January of 2018 from the Milwaukee Brewers. Miami sent Christian Yelich to the Brewers in exchange for four prospects, including Yamamoto. Yamamoto finished his first full season in the big leagues with a 4.46 ERA over 78.2 IP.

Yamamoto sports a five-pitch repertoire on the mound, including a fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, and changeup. Incorporating all five of these pitches has led to Yamamoto posting a 9.38 K/9 over the course of his first season. In his first start, he threw seven shutout innings, struck out five as he collected the win against the St. Louis Cardinals. Yamamoto looks to build on his first taste in the big leagues with a stellar 2020 campaign.

Pablo Lopez

Baseball Savant

Next up in the rotation is RHP Pablo López. The 23-year-old joined the Miami organization after being traded from the Seattle Mariners in July of 2017 to the Marlins for RP David Phelps. López made his big-league debut with Miami in 2018. Since then he has pitched to a 4.62 ERA in the majors.

López is young and has two minor league options remaining, but Miami has to like what they have seen from him at the major league level. Over 111.1 innings in 2019, López collected 1.6 WAR, walked only 27 batters, and gave up just 15 home runs. His 3.52 K/BB rate was a good sign from the sophomore right hander. López will look to build on his solid 2019 starting shortly when pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 12.

Elieser Hernandez

Baseball Savant

Rounding out the rotation is 24-year-old Elieser Hernandez. The Marlins took him in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft from the Houston Astros. Hernandez has been in professional baseball since 2012 when he was at the Rookie Ball level for the Astros. He made his debut in 2018 with the Marlins, but began the 2019 season back in AAA with the New Orleans Baby Cakes. In 2019, he posted a 5.03 ERA over 82.1 innings.

Hernandez is projected as a back-end rotation arm and that is where he is slotting in with Miami. He posted a very respectable 9.29 K/9, but has been hurt by walks and gotten in serious trouble with the long ball. His 2.84 BB/9 walk rate and 2.19 HR/9 homerun rate caused Hernandez the most trouble in 2019. If Hernandez can cut down on the homeruns, he will be more than serviceable in the final spot of this Miami rotation.

From July of 2017 through January of 2018 the Miami Marlins collected several high value prospects, five of which will be starting almost all of their 2020 games. These five players have the opportunity to start bringing Miami out of their rebuild with some consistent success in 2020. In recent years Miami has not had too much to be excited about, but the development of this rotation is certainly something to be hopeful for.

All statistics provided by FanGraphs