Marlins rotation stepping up

The collective benefit of starting pitchers working deeper into games is the bullpen gets a breather.

Unlike recent years, where the Marlins rotation struggled to pitch into the sixth or seventh innings on a regular basis, the 2010 staff is, thus far, doing their job. They already have three complete games, which is tied with the Phillies for most in the Major Leagues.

Florida’s starters have thrown 152 1/3 innings, which is tied with Cincinnati for the fifth most in the N.L. The Reds, meanwhile, have played one more game.

The Cardinals staff has thrown a league high 171 2/3 innings. On the flip side, Florida’s bullpen has thrown 70 2/3 innings, which is the 13th most in the N.L. In years past, the Marlins bullpen has finished near the top in total innings pitched.

TimLincecum_2007_007.jpgThe fewest amount of relief innings this season have been posted by the Giants (65 1/3).

The Giants, of course, are in South Florida this week to begin a three-game series beginning Tuesday night at Sun Life Stadium.

Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum will take the mound tonight for San Francisco, while Anibal Sanchez gets the call for the Marlins.

A key to working deep into games, or throwing complete games, is pounding the strike zone.

“I think being around the zone, and being consistent, that’s the name of the game,” Marlins ace Josh Johnson said. “But that’s easier said than done. Sometimes, you are fighting to be consistent. Other times, when you find that groove, and things just happen and you don’t have to force it to make it happen.”
The complete game has been something in decline throughout baseball. Yet, it is still an important statistic because it helps keep bullpens rested.

Here’s the list of teams with 10 or more complete games over the past decade:

* 2009: Giants 11, Royals 10, Blue Jays 10
* 2008:Blue Jays 15, Brewers 12, Indians 10
* 2007: Blue Jays 11
* 2006: Indians 13
* 2005: Cardinals 15, Marlins 14
* 2004: Expos 11, A’s 10
* 2003: A’s 16, Expos 15, Blue Jays 14, Cubs 13, White Sox 12
* 2002: Diamondbacks 14, Royals 12, Devil Rays 12, Tigers 11, Cubs 11, Marlins 11, Giants 10
* 2001: Tigers 16, A’s 13, Twins 12, Diamondbacks 12, Orioles 10
* 2000: Diamondbacks 16, Blue Jays 15, Orioles 14, Braves 13, Royals 10, Cubs 10, Devil Rays 10

— Joe Frisaro

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