Jhan Marinez Should Get A Larger Role In The Pirate Bullpen
By Marty Leap
Ever since the Pirates claimed Jhan Marinez off waivers in late May he has been an excellent addition to the bullpen. Now, he needs an expanded role.
Under the leadership of general manager Neal Huntington and the tutelage of pitching coach Ray Searage the Pittsburgh Pirates have long been known for ‘fixing’ pitchers. They have done an excellent job of finding both starting pitchers and relief pitchers that were struggling, bringing them to Pittsburgh, and helping them find success. The latest example of this is reliever Jhan Marinez.
On May 15th, Jhan Marinez was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers. The Pirates would claim him off waivers, put him in their bullpen, and he has done nothing but pitch exceptionally well ever since.
Since joining the Pirates Jhan Marinez has pitched 19 innings. In these 19 innings of work he has allowed just 17 hits and 1 home run. He is averaging 8.05 K/9, just 2.84 BB/9, and has a stellar 55.6 percent ground ball rate. This all comes out to a 2.37 ERA, a 3.14 FIP, and a 3.78 xFIP.
Marinez has the rare combination where he is a groundball pitcher with power stuff allowing him to also rack up strikeouts. Similar to Charlie Morton when he is pitching well. This has made Marinez a great weapon out of the Pirate bullpen.
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Since joining the Pirates, Marinez has a hard contact rate of just 26.8 percent. He also has a strong line drive rate of 18.5 percent. While you would like to see his 12.5 percent soft contact rate improve some, it is hard to complain about the results he has gotten.
His main weapon since joining the Pirates has been a slider that he has thrown 20.5 percent of the time. Opposing batters own a -30 wRC+ off of his slider this season, a .139 slugging percentage, and a wOBA of just .109. He’s allowed just three hits off of his slider this season, a single and two doubles, and has generated a 45.6 percent strikeout rate with it.
Additionally, his two-seamed fastball has been a groundball machine. When throwing his two-seamed fastball this season Jhan Marinez has generated a 75.4 percent groundball rate. This helps to make up for the 131 wRC+ opposing hitters have off his two-seamed fastball this season.
Outside of Felipe Rivero, Juan Nicasio, and Wade LeBlanc the Pirate bullpen has been a total and complete crapshoot this season. Tony Watson and Daniel Hudson have both been, at best, inconsistent. Antonio Bastardo was abysmal before being placed on the disabled list, and while Edgar Santana has flashed a lot of good he’s only pitched 4 2/3 Major League innings.
When the Pirates hand a lead over to Nicasio and Rivero, they are going to win that game almost every single time. However, with LeBlanc firmly entrenched as the team’s long reliever, getting the lead from the starter to these two is not always a given. That is where the expanded role for Jhan Marinez should come into play.
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The Pirate bullpen needs another reliable arm for high leverage situations. With Jhan Marinez, the Pirates have a possible option for this in-house already. It is time for Marinez to get a larger role in the Pirate bullpen, he has certainly earned it with his performance in Pittsburgh.
*- Stats and pitch data via FanGraphs