Cracking the WHIP
From the first day of Spring Training, manager Fredi Gonzalez talked about the importance of the thrownig strikes.
Gonzalez added that an important statistic, in his mind, is the WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched).
What the Marlins saw on Wednesday night in their wild 7-6 win in 10 innings over the Mets is what can go wrong when pitchers aren’t throwing strikes.
After building a five-run lead on Dan Uggla’s homer in the top of the seventh, the Marlins pitchers lost track of the strike zone. The Mets rallied to force extra innings, and Florida was fortunate to prevail.
Ricky Nolasco uncharacteristically walked the first two batters to start the seventh. But the real damage came when the Florida starter exited with two outs in the seventh.
Renyel Pinto, Jose Veras and Leo Nunez worked 2 1/3 innings, but all three struggled to find the plate. They combined for six walks, a hit batter and a balk. The three totaled 82 pitches, but just 40 were strikes. Throwing 49 percent of their pitches for strikes created a reason for alarm.
“We can’t do that because we’re going to get our heads beat in,” Gonzalez said.
Pinto faced three batters and didn’t log an out. The lefty walked one, allowed one hit and hit a batter. Veras did get out of the seventh, but with some good fortune.
Veras’ first pitch was a high fastball to David Wright. The ball sailed off John Baker’s glove, and as it rolled away from the catcher, Fernando Tatis tried scoring from third. Baker retrieved the ball, and threw home to Veras, who applied the tag.
“I tried to throw a fastball away, and it was a little high,” Veras said. “The ball stayed close, and we got that guy out. That was a huge play with the bases loaded right there and David Wright hitting.”
Nunez worked 1 1/3 inning, and entered in a tough spot — the bases loaded — in the eighth inning. Because Nunez threw 40 pitches, with 19 strikes, he won’t be available for Thursday. Tim Wood, who had a 15-pitch (10 strikes) save, on Wednesday is a candidate to close in the series finale.
Veras noted that it was just one game, and most of the relievers hadn’t thrown in a game since last Saturday.
“We tried to get the job done. It happens in the ball game,” Veras said. “Maybe we tried to be too perfect. The best part is we won the game, and tomorrow is another day.”
— Joe Frisaro