27 March 2012
You would never guess based on the Marlins poor 1-4-1 record for the week that this may have actually have been the Marlins best week of the spring. To start off Josh Johnson had two starts last weeks, both against Tampa Bay, and combined he pitched 9 2/3 inning while giving up on two runs while striking out eight. Johnson now sits at a 2-1 record and while pitching 16 2/3 innings he has struck out 15, 15 hits, nine walks, and has given up a total of 3 runs. Outside of of the high number of walks, it looks like Johnson is back to being on top of his game and as long as he can stay healthy the Marlins have a shot at challenging the Phillies for the division title. However, Anibal Sanchez continues to struggle and with only two more probable starts before the beginning of the season he is going to need to get his innings up or their might be a chance that Wade Leblanc could get to pitch in place of Anibal for his first turn in the rotation. Last Monday Sanchez gave up six runs to Houston in only 2 2/3 inning and so far this spring he has only pitched 4 2/3 innings. Meanwhile Wade Leblac has been the Marlins best pitcher this spring, although he gave up 4 runs this week, this spring has given up 19 2/3 innings giving up 3 only three earned runs and nine hits while striking out 19.
The Marlins have also seen some signs of life on the offensive side with many of their players raising their poor batting averages. Three of the largest spikes in spring batting averages this week have come from Jose Reyes (from .160 to .293), Nick Green (.185 to .217), and Aaron Rowand (from .069 to .133). For Jose Reyes it is nice to see him getting into a grove as the season nears, but for Green and Rowand who are fighting for roster spots they still have some catching up to do. Green is competing with Donnie Murphy and surprise candidate for Donovan Solano to make the roster as a backup infielder. Green does have a higher batting average than Murphy, though Murphy has 11 more at bats, but Solano is batting .382 and has been one of the most productive players for the Marlins all spring. With Donnie Murphy and Donovan Solano being younger than Green I'd give the edge to one of them to make the spot over Green. Personally I believe the sport will go to Murphy, but if Murphy struggles the team will not have a problem quickly calling Solano up to replace him.
As for the the fourth outfield spot. Rowand has really helped his case by actually picking up a few hits, Last week I'd have placed him as the least likely to win the spot, he has moved up past Scott Cousins who's average has dropped down to .135 and has 13 strikeouts in 37 at bats. Chris Couglan still would appear to be more likely than Rowand to make the team if just for the simple fact that Rowand is considerably older and his body has taken a lot of abuse over the years. Yes, Coghlan has had a series of injury set backs since winning Rookie of the Year, he admits that unlike last year he is coming into 2012 100% healthy. If this is truly the case it would make sense that the Marlins would choose Coghlan, after all the team had high hopes for him to be their starting center fielder at this time last year. Meanwhile Austin Kearns who was also in contention as the fourth outfielder has probably locked up a sport on the Marlins no matter what. Kearns is batting .296 this spring with three home runs, eight RBIs, and five runs. Kearns can play the corner outfield positions as well as first base, and until Greg Dobbs is healthy Kearns can fill in for him.
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