There are a lot of problems that affect a team that is currently starting the year with a 3-8 record. Some are to be expected when you have a lot of new moving parts that still need time to gel with the other, more established players. Dee Gordon is not one of them; he is hitting the ball, getting on base, stealing bases and setting up the hitters behind him to be productive. Giancarlo Stanton appears to be getting his swing right with two straight nights of home runs. Martin Prado and Michael Morse have also each hit home runs but their swings are a bit inconsistent at the moment – still, they are quality hitters who will come around.
For the most part, the offense has been fickle. The team average ranks 16th overall sitting at a .226 AVG, .296 OBP, .344 SLG, and .639 OPS. There is much room for improvement.
That said, it is the pitching which is woeful. The team ERA of 4.82 puts the Fish 27th overall. To contrast that, the Mets are 3rd in all of MLB with a 2.63 ERA and the Braves are 11th with a 3.40 ERA. Of the 97 IP, 56.6 have been from their starters while the relievers have contributed 40.4 innings. That means the relief pitching has pitched 42% of the innings available this season.
In some cases, the relievers have pitched more, if not almost as much, as the starters. Mat Latos, whose struggles are well-noted, has only pitched for 4.2 innings this year. That is exposing the relievers quite a bit as he has had two starts thus far. Mike Dunn, Sam Dyson, Brad Hand, Bryan Morris, and AJ Ramos have all logged more innings that Latos.
This is obviously not sustainable. Starters have to get past the 6th inning regularly and churn out quality starts to give the Fish a chance at winning. The way the games have gone has not been conducive to the way this team was constructed, either – Steve Cishek has had limited work only logging 2.1 innings thus far (and racking up a ERA of 19.29).
Having Henderson Alvarez go down with an early season injury won’t help. Mike Redmond pegged David Phelps to be the starter in the interim, which shortens up the bullpen to an extent. That said, Phelps was pretty solid stretching out for 5.2 innings last night, but was running out of gas into the 6th.
The most effective relievers are Dunn, Ramos, and Morris at this point. Dyson has had control problems that will limit his effectiveness until that is rectified.
In all, the Marlins need a boost from a starter other than Dan Haren. They need to start getting to the 7th inning with more regularity in order to preserve the bullpen and right the ship. Otherwise, the struggles will continue indefinitely.