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Florida Marlins Bullpen In Need of Relief

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There is no bullpen in the major leagues that has been more taxed than the Florida Marlins bullpen. After last night's 15-2 debacle against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Marlins' pen has made a combined 146 appearances and thrown a combined 156.2 innings, both tops in the major leagues.

Last night, five Florida "relief" pitchers threw a combined 158 pitches over seven innings of work. This includes 16 pitches and a scoreless inning from first baseman/outfielder Ross Gload; yes, that Ross Gload. Sadly, Gload isn't the first position player to appear as a pitcher for the team this season. Cody Ross also has a scoreless inning to his credit in 2009. (Not even Scott Proctor, who had a rubber arm, could handle this amount of workload. He checked out of the Marlins bullpen before the season even started.)

Last night's game was so bad that it took David Davidson (if that's his real name), who was making his Marlins debut, 52 pitches to retire the side in the third inning. He allowed five runs on four hits and four walks, but he did strike out the side. The Marlins showed how much they thought of Davidson's performance by promptly designating him for assignment after the game. 

Already, the fish have three relief pitcher with 20+ appearances, including the major league leader in relief appearances, Kiko Calero (26), and the runner up to Calero, Renyel Pinto (24). Leo Nunez also has 20 appearances with Dan Meyer (19) and Matt Lindstrom (18) not far behind.

To their credit, the Marlins relief corps has put up good numbers despite their heavy work load. Even after last night's black eye, the Marlins rank right in the middle of the pack with a bullpen ERA of 4.25. FIP-wise they are even better, narrowly making the top ten with a pen FIP of 4.08. This is mainly because the Florida relievers have a league high 165 strikeouts and a major league best 9.48 K/9. They have also done a nice job of keeping the ball in the park allowing just 15 home runs in their 156.2 innings of work.

The numbers look decent now, but if the Marlins have more weeks like this past one those numbers will certainly take a hit as the fatigue factor rises, which could lead to possible injury and general ineffectiveness. The Marlins are going to have to get better starting pitching, but that doesn't appear to be an easy task. Last night's starter, Ricky Nolasco, was demoted after the game and tonight they will start Sean West, who is making his major league debut. Somewhere Todd Jones, John Rocker and Kenny Powers await the call from Michael Hill or Larry Beinfest.