They are sorely missed. The wins that were coming at the beginning of the season are starting to slip away here in the middle portion of baseball’s marathon. Why? The reason is simple – when your starting pitching routinely fails to throw as many innings as your relievers, the game is going to turn upside down for you very quickly.
Mark Hendrickson has seemed to fall back to earth with a short outing last night against the Reds and with Badenhop relieving him, we can probably rest assured that Ryan Tucker is here to stay. At least for now.
The bullpen has been overworked and sooner or later, throwing 5+ innings a game is going to catch up. They are overextended and will soon be overexposed. Yet here comes some relief for the relievers – Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez.
Josh Johnson is rehabbing in Jupiter where he pitched a live game yesterday, the first time since the 4th of July last year in San Diego where he left the game with pain in his throwing arm despite pitching 5 shutout innings. Monday, he pitched 5 innings, gave up 5 hits and 1 run against the Cardinals in Jupiter.
”That’s good news,” said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, “If he’s healthy, he will be a starter.”
The Marlins have been taking it easy with Johnson. He wasn’t expected back until August but is showing such great progress that he is actually ahead of schedule and we might see him back on the mound in July around the All Star Break.
Then there is Anibal Sanchez. While JJ is coming back from Tommy John surgery, Sanchez is working back from shoulder surgery. He is a little behind Johnson in his rehab but reports are he is throwing off the mound and is very close to pitching in a game.
If the Marlins can add Johnson and Sanchez to their rotation after the All Star Break, that might be just the shot in the arm they need to keep it going for the 2nd half of the season. Let’s face it, at this rate there is no way this team can continue to win games. Their bullpen is being overworked and they will burn out. Yet with Nolasco and Olsen continuing to string together quality starts and Tucker looking like he can get stronger as the season goes on, with Johnson and Sanchez the Marlins may have just pieced together enough starting pitching to make this team a formidable foe in the second half.