Dominant pitching continues to carry the Florida Marlins early in 2011, helping one of the bigger surprises in all of baseball achieve a 15-8 record as off April 27th. The bullpen and ace RH Josh Johnson(3-0,1.06 ERA,33 Ks,0.65 WHIP in 5 starts(34 innings) !!!) have led the way with RH SP Anibal Sanchez recently stepping up. CF Chris Coghlan has sparked the offense, leading the team in hits(27), Home runs(4) and rbi(16) . 1B Gaby Sanchez(.291,3,10) and LF Mike Stanton(.267,2,9) have also stepped up offensively. This is a scary start for this team for several reasons: Superstar SS Hanley Ramirez is hitting under .200, Stanton’s power numbers are far below expectations and the team is very young overall.
1- SUPER SANCHEZ: The right hander has really given the team a big lift out the #3 rotation spot early on. In his last two starts, he has thrown 14 innings while allowing 5 hits and 3 earned runs. He also K-ed 13 and walked 4. Sanchez(1-1,3.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) also became the 1st pitcher since 2006 to pitch a no hitter(2006) and two one hitters(2010) when he lost a no hitter in the 9th to the Colorado Rockies April 22nd on his 116 pitch. He settled down and tossed a complete game while using 123 pitches. Incredible when you consider how good Colorado has been offensively early on.
2- MEDICAL MORRISON: Regular LF Logan Morrison was placed on the 15 day DL with a foot injury April 22nd and the team hopes he will be able to return to the lineup May 5th. He will report to the Marlins spring training complex this weekend and begin rehab. Barring any setbacks, he will play some minor league games as well. Morrison was among the team leaders in all categories when he went down:.327,4,11.
3- BRIAN IN THE BULLPEN: Could talk to you forever about the early success of the relief corps but wanted to single out a very underrated component of the group, 5th year man RH Brian Sanchez. In 14 and two third innings, he has a team high 3 wins, 0.61 ERA and .41 WHIP. The righty has K-ed 11 and walked 4 as well. Part of a great bullpen led by closer Leo Nunez(2-1,7 saves,1.50).
The 2011 Florida Marlins stand at 10-6 as of April 21st and are one of the more surprising teams in all of the majors. This young and developing club is getting it done without superstar SS Hanley Ramirez(.235,6 rbi) providing much offense. The key to the early success? Pitching, Pitching and more pitching!!! Led by ace RH Josh Johnson(3-0,1.00 ERA in 4 starts), the staff has carried the team and kept them in games until they scratch out the runs needed to secure victories.
1- Josh and the Boys: Words do not do this man justice right now. His stat line does: 4 starts, 27 innings, 10 hits, 6 walks, 27 strikeouts and an opponents batting average of .112!!!!! And a WHIP of .59!!!! I grew up in Boston, saw people like Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez in their primes as well as Dwight Gooden in 1985. Josh Johnson is on that level right now. That is a nice start for ANY rotation. Veteran RH Ricky Nolasco has also been solid(3 quality starts in 4 outings, 2-0,3.00) but the key has to be the relief corps. This unit, led by closer Leo Nunez(5 saves,2.25, is greatly improved over 2010 and DEEP. LH Mike Dunn(2 Holds, 9 Ks,5 1/3 innings) and RH Brian Sanchez(8 Ks, 10 2/3 innings) have not allowed an earned run while RHs Clay Hensley(5 holds, 1.23 ERA) and Ryan Webb(2 holds, 2.79) have been equally dominant. Overall, the pitching stats do not lie(Overall ranks among the 30 ML teams): ERA(4), Quality starts(20), WHIP(5) and Batting average against(6th).
2- Battling Bats: Although the Marlins are 23rd in runs scored, the team puts the bat on the ball(9th in batting average) and draws walks(8th On base). The young corner bats in LF Logan Morrison and at 1B Gaby Sanchez lead Florida in every major offensive stat. Sanchez is batting .328 with a team high 20 hits while Morrison leads the club with 4 home runs, 11 rbi and a .424 on base. Great sign when you have a proven commodity like Ramirez off to such a slow start. Many believe Mike Stanton will wake up as well. CF Chris Coghlan(Offseason knee surgery, shoulder injury during spring training) has started to look like he is healthy and tore it up the week of April 11-17th (.450, 2 rbi,3 runs).
MARLINS NOTES: 3B Donnie Murphy should be Ok after bruising his left knee Sunday April 17th. He has sat out games thru Wednesday(April 20th) but was available to pinch hit that evening . The club has options at Third(Gregg Dobbs, Wes Helms) and Murphy can play 2B as well…. Morrison came up lame after making the last out of the 4th inning Tuesday(April 18th) , favoring his left foot. The injury could be serious, as Florida’s LF had a walking boot on and crutches near his locker post game. The club will have an MRI done Thursday but it looks like a DL stint is on the menu.
Marlins superstar Shortstop Hanley Ramirez should return to action this Tuesday(April 12th) after injuring his leg in Friday night’s game (April 8th) vs the Houston Astros. Ramirez hurt his left shin after being taken out by a low hard slide from Houston INF Bill Hall while attempting to complete a double play , the Marlins franchise player stayed down in pain for about a minute before being assisted off the field. He was available to pinch hit Saturday and Sunday(Was not used) but Florida manager Edwin Rodriquez says the SS is just sore and improving. Ramirez should be good to go when the Marlins start a 3 game series Tuesday in Atlanta vs the Braves.
The Florida Marlins, one of the youngest teams in all of baseball, started the 2011 campaign with some major questions and week 1 offered some answers but concerns as well. C John Buck, a very underrated free agent signing(Just ask any of your Red Sox fan friends what catching can do for you!), has 7 rbis early while ace RH Josh Johnson has been incredible in two starts((1-0,.213 ERA). The bullpen has taken 2 of the 3 losses but looks greatly improved overall. However, Third base (Career backup Donnie Murphy hitting .235) has a gaping hole until prospect Matt Dominguez is ready. Not a bad start(3-3) for a team this young and developing. The key? Team must hit better! The club has scored 22 runs thru April 7th, whiich earns them a ranking of 16th in all of MLB. This team has too many offensive first players to not score runs.
Week 1 Notes:
1- Stanton Stable? 2nd year phenom RF Mike Stanton has played 5 innings all season after he mildly strained his left hamstring in the season opener. The club hopes to get him back as early as this Friday(March 8th). 1B Gaby Sanchez has picked up the slack in Stanton’s absence, hitting .360 with 4 rbis in the first week while LF Logan Morrison has added 2 home runs and 4 rbi.
2- Pen Please- 4 of the clubs 5 top relievers have not allowed an earned run as of April 7th, led by LHs Randy Choate(1 IP) and Mike Dunn(3 IP, Key component of the Dan Uggla trade). Meanwhile, RHs Brian Sanchez(5 IP) and Clay Hensley(5 IP) have looked outstanding in set up roles. Closer Leo Nunez(4 games, 2.25 ERA) converted his lone save opportunity and has 4 strikeouts.
3- Rotation questions- Besides the always impressive Johnson, the club needed at least 2 of the other 4 starters to come out strong. Both RH Ricky Nolasco( 7 innnings,4 Ks and 2 earned runs) and Anibal Sanchez(5 and 2 thirds, 2 runs, 7 Ks) looked good in their rotation turns. #5 man RH Chris Volstad was workmanlike, going 5 and allowing 3 runs. Veteran RH Javier Vasquez took a beating vs the Mets April 3rd, giving up 7 runs(4 earned) and 6 hits while walking 5.
SICK STAT: 15.43 ….. That is Vasquez’ ERA after his 1st start!!!
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