The Miami Marlins are quite obviously a different club in 2013 than they were at the close of 2012. Relative to their starting rotation, gone are Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle (and, ahem, Carlos Zambrano) which opens up a number of opportunities for fresh blood. Whether any of that fresh blood is fit for fantasy or better suited for The Walking Dead is up to some debate. But there are certainly some interesting battles going on to round out the back end of this rather motley crew of arms.
Ricky Nolasco goes from perennial #4 to the ace of the staff. Nolasco is notorious for underperforming his predictors and based on traditional 5×5 systems, hasn’t been particularly useful since 2008. What used to make Nolasco interesting enough was a very good strikeout rate to go along with what seemed like latent potential for a solid ERA and WHIP. Now that it’s been four seasons running of a not-solid-at-all ERA and WHIP, that ship has sailed. Also casting off are his strikeouts where he’s seen his strikeout rate do this over the last four seasons:
Miami is going to be a young team, and it’s hard to know just how many runs they’re going to score — but wins might be a tough thing to come across in 2013 for Nolasco (and anyone else, for that matter). There are enough warning signs that you should probably steer clear of Nolasco unless you can stash him as your #6 or #7 starter. Chances are you could pull him off the wire in a pinch anyway.
Jacob Turner is undoubtedly the most interesting starter for the Marlins. The former first round pick was sent to the Marlins by way of Detroit last season, and despite losing four of his seven starts, he pitched well. He posted a 3.38 ERA (3.89 FIP), 0.98 WHIP, and a 17.1% K rate over 42.2 innings pitched. His 5.3% walk rate was actually a little uncharacteristic based on his minor league stats, so it’s unrealistic to think he can reproduce that WHIP, but he has shown good command over his career. Over 350 minor league innings, Turner recorded a 3.12 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and a 7.2 K/9 rate. Most projection systems have him settling in with an ERA just shy of 4.00, a WHIP around 1.30, and about a 6.0 K/9 rate. Don’t count on double digit wins, but if you’re forced to take a fish, Turner might be the best of the bunch.
After a pretty successful rookie season in 2011, Henderson Alvarez failed to deliver any fantasy value in 2012. Shipped to Miami in the uber-salary dump, Alvarez will be someone to watch in one of those change-of-scenery kinds of ways. There’s certainly some latent potential there, but more in a pitch to contact and strike out nobody Jon Garland sort of way. The move to the National League should help him improve upon a horrible 3.80 K/9 rate, but even if he can reach 5.0 K/9, that’s still just looking at a starter with 100K’s. He’s another that will be available on the wire unless it’s a deep league-specific format, and even in that case, you shouldn’t be very excited about his prospects in 2013 (although it’s worth noting that Steamer is fairly bullish on him).
Yet another 2012 trade acquisition, Nathan Eovaldi split time between the Dodgers and the Marlins, where he won a combined four games over 22 starts. He finished with a 4.30 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and a 14.8% K rate. He is one of Mike Newman’s favorites though, citing the life on his fastball, which is certainly notable. He’s still just 23 years old, so there’s plenty of time to develop — but for 2013, it’s probably best to stash him in dynasty leagues than rely on him for any kind of immediate help.
The battle for the fifth spot in the rotation looks like a big wet noodle competition. Wade LeBlanc, Brad Hand, Tom Koehler, Alex Sanabia, Kevin Slowey, John Maine, and maybe even Mitch Talbot have a shot. Wade LeBlanc seemed to have the inside track on the 5th slot and he’s done nothing to diminish that prospect in Spring so far, pitching nine innings, striking out seven and not giving up a run or a walk. Veterans Kevin Slowey and John Maine might push for the job, and it’s possible they could toss LeBlanc into more of a long-guy/LOOGY situation as he’s done in the past. If LeBlanc does win the job, heed the words of Jack Moore’s FG+ write up, “LeBlanc has uninspiring stuff and uninspiring peripherals. The result, unsurprisingly, is an uninspiring fantasy profile for the presumptive Marlins’ fifth starter.”
Your preliminary Marlin SP depth chart with Steamer projections: