Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’

How JJ makes more of less

Even among power pitchers, Marlins ace Josh Johnson ranks up there with the best of him.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound right-hander repeatedly brings the heat when he’s on the mound. His fastball, according to, is the fourth highest on average of any starter in the big leagues. The average of all JJ’s fastballs this season is 94.6 mph.

JoshJohnsonawe.jpgPure heat, however, isn’t necessarily the formula for success. Yes, being overpowering enables a pitcher to get away with more mistakes. But to be truly the best of the best, Johnson is aware that he must be better at subtraction with his off-speed pitches.

A good sign for Johnson is when his slider is in the neighborhood of 85-86 mph. The thing with Johnson is, because he throws so hard, even his slider can be 90-91 mph.

Why the benefit of the 10 mph drop in speed off his fastball? Because it is harder to hitters to time.

A case in point came in Johnson’s last start, when he beat the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on June 10. In the first inning, JJ faced runners on second and third with two outs. On a 2-2 pitch, he struck out Jayson Werth with an 85 mph slider, after he threw a 96 mph fastball for a ball.

The more Johnson learns about subtracting on his slider, the better he will be. At 26, JJ is still learning the finer points of the game.

Hitters have shown they can foul off his 91 mph slider, running up JJ’s pitch count. When he gets them to wave at 85 mph, he becomes virtually unhittable.

A big reason why Nationals sensation Stephen Strasburg is so effective is he throws an 86 mph curveball to complement a 99 mph fastball.

JJ is very skilled at adjusting during games. He is working on spinning the baseball  more to reduce velocity. A good indicator on if it is working is if you see the velocity on his slider in the 85 mph range. 

— Joe Frisaro



Rained out Wednesday

For the second time this season, the Marlins have had a game postponed because of rain.

Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia was washed out. No makeup date has been set yet. But a possible date for a doubleheader will be on Sept. 6, when the Marlins return to Philadelphia.

The Marlins rotation has now shuffled for the new few days.

Josh Johnson, who was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, will throw on Thursday. The Phillies are countering with Roy Halladay.

The Marlins weekend rotation at Tampa Bay now will be Anibal Sanchez (Friday), Ricky Nolasco (Saturday) and Chris Volstad (Sunday). Nate Robertson is being skipped one start, and he is available in the bullpen.

The Marlins previously were rained out on April 23 at Colorado. They made that up on April 24 with a doubleheader.

— Joe Frisaro


Halladay ticket souvenir offer

History was made last Saturday at Sun Life Stadium when Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Marlins.

A crowd of 25,086 was on hand to watch Halladay retire all 27 Marlins he faced in a 1-0 victory.

Those wanting a piece of history will get a chance on Tuesday when remaining tickets that were available for that night will go on sale at

Tickets to all Marlins home games are available on

Halladay become the 20th pitcher in MLB history to log a perfect game.

— Joe Frisaro



Moving past the controversy

It’s the nature of sports these days. Controversy comes, speculation follows.

Such is the case of Hanley Ramirez and his rift this week with manager Fredi Gonzalez. Since Monday, when the All-Star shortstop was benched for not hustling, a firestorm brushed through the organization and became a hot-topic in the sports world.

When Ramirez apologized to his teammates on Wednesday, it put an end to the story, at least internally. It didn’t take long, however, for the rumors to surface. Would the Marlins now consider trading their two-time All-Star?

The answer flatly is no. The Marlins never say never on any player. Their company line is “some players are more likely to be traded than others.” Ramirez is in the less likely category.

Through inquires, it was confirmed the Marlins have no interest in moving Ramirez. Some reports say teams called Florida, and were told the same thing.

The Marlins now consider the matter said and done. The front office backed Gonzalez, as did the players. Ramirez spoke individually to his teammates, expressing his regret, and now they move forward.

Gonzalez noted earlier in the week, that if handled right, this could become a positive. It may indeed make Ramirez more focused. It certainly put all the players on alert to give maximum effort.

Bottom line is the Marlins need Ramirez to perform at his highest level to contend for the playoffs. The hope is, he will indeed do so. A year ago, when Ramirez and Dan Uggla had a run in, Ramirez went on a hot streak.

The Marlins are trying to catch the Phillies, or reach the playoffs. They want their star players performing on the field, not being involved in off-field distractions.

As for trade rumors, they always seem to follow Marlins players whenever they are caught up in something controversial. We saw it in the offseason with Josh Johnson. When talks of a contract extension broke off last November, immediately speculation ran rampant that the Marlins were going to deal the ace of their staff.

Two months later, the Marlins held a news conference, announcing Johnson had agreed to a four-year contract.

Time heals.

Incidents where players clash with either each other or their managers appear to occur more than the public realizes. Normally, they are not in the public eye. Often times they are dealt with, amends are made, and all parties move on.

The Marlins have moved on. But will the trade rumors stop?

— Joe Frisaro



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

Getting Hanley on track

Many players would take a .288 batting average and .395 on-base percentage.

Hanley Ramirez isn’t like most players.

hanley-ramirez2q.jpgThe Marlins slugger is in a bit of a slide — by his standards, at least.

Through 19 games, Ramirez has one home run, six RBIs and nine runs scored. He has now gone five straight games without driving in a run, and with runners in scoring position this season, his average is .176.

After the Marlins lost 8-4 to the Rockies at Coors Field on Sunday, Ramirez noted that it is early. And he is absolutely right.There is no reason to think the 26-year-old won’t get hot, and drastically raise his batting average. We’ve seen it since he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2006. Last season, of course, he was the NL batting champ with a .342 average, to go along with 106 RBIs. With runners in scoring position a year ago, he batted .373.

“Don’t worry about me. Just worry about the team. I’ll be fine. No worries,” Ramirez said Sunday night. “It’s early. We just have to keep winning. We had a couple of tough losses in Houston and here.

“We’ve got to keep competing the whole game. Our starting rotation has been doing a little bit better, and they’re going to get better. They’ve been going deep into the game.”

The Marlins went 4-5 on the road trip after taking two of three at Philadelphia. In the six games at Houston and Colorado, Ramirez was 4-for-22. When you count the final game in Philadelphia, he is 4-for-26. 

Quite simply, the numbers are very un-Hanleylike.

“It’s early. It’s not September or August,” Ramirez said. “Nothing like that. I’m not worried about that.”

Manager Fredi Gonzalez noted that the Marlins are 10-9 and they are above .500 without the offense clicking. Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla have been the hottest hitters all season. The others have been inconsistent.

“That’s happening to all the teams,” Ramirez said. “All 30 teams. Not nine guys in the lineup are going to be hot. Some guys are going to be cold, and some guys are going to get hot. We’ve got to try to go forward and get out of it.

“If everybody would be hot, we’d be 19-0. No worries for me. I know myself. I know what I can do.”

As long as he’s healthy, and he is, there is enough history on his side to suggest he will get red hot in a hurry. 

— Joe Frisaro



Nolasco completed what he started

When Ricky Nolasco last took the mound, he took care of business all by himself.

At Philadelphia last Saturday night, the 27-year-old right-hander turned in a complete game. Scattering five hits, Nolasco worked all nine innings in the Marlins, 5-1, victory.

ricky-nolasco.jpgNolasco takes the mound on Friday night at Colorado, when the Marlins open a three-game set with the Rockies at Coors Field (weather permitting, it’s cold and rainy).

Nolasco was one out away from also tossing a shutout, but Jayson Werth jumped on a first-pitch fastball for a solo home run. Nolasco ended it by retiring Raul Ibanez on a soft grounder back to the mound.

Complete games are rare these days. Not only for the Marlins, but throughout baseball.

Nolasco is the only Marlin to go the distance this season. And in the entire Major Leagues, just 12 pitchers have thrown complete games. Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia each have tossed two. There have been three complete-game shutouts — Halladay, Livan Hernandez and Ubaldo Jimenez (who no-hit the Braves).

No team, thus far, has had two seperate pitchers go the distance.

How rare have complete games for Florida been? Consider this fact. In 2005, the Marlins had 14 as a team. Since then, Nolasco’s complete game was the 14th total for Florida over the past five seasons.

With so much attention paid to pitch counts these days, pitchers are conditioned — mentally and physically — that six innings is a solid outing.

Another factor is the amount of strikes being thrown. Baseball insiders have noted — privately and publicly — that the strike zone has become so tight it makes it very difficult for pitchers to last deeper into games.

Marlins bench coach Carlos Tosca offered a suggestion to help speed up the game, and improve the action — raise the mound. 

— Joe Frisaro


Cantu takes his cuts

cantu1a.jpg (more…)

Gload heading to Phillies

Add left-handed bat off the bench to the Marlins’ needs.

Late Tuesday night, veteran Ross Gload agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Phillies.

A free agent, the 33-year-old first baseman was an effective pinch-hitter and spot starter in his lone season with the Marlins. Gload had 21 pinch-hits and 15 pinch-hit RBIs, both Marlins records for a season.

The left-handed hitting Gload was also a strong defensive first baseman, and he can also play both corner outfield spots.

In 125 games, Gload batted .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs. He even was an emergency pitcher on May 22, tossing one scoreless inning against Tampa Bay.

The Marlins acquired Gload and cash from the Royals on April 1 for a player to be named, who became right-hand prospect Eric Basurto.

Gload broke in with the Cubs in 2000, and he also played for the Rockies and White Sox.

In Philadelphia, the likely will fill the pinch-hit role that Matt Stairs held.

The Marlins had a two-year, $1.9 million offer on the table for Gload, who also attracted interest from the Braves.

In early November, the Marlins turned down a $2.6 million club option on Gload, making him a free agent.

— Joe Frisaro


Pays off to finish second

As it turns out, finishing second does have its rewards. To players on the Marlins, it means another $10,000 in their pockets.

Major League Baseball on Monday announced the postseason shares for the 2009 season. A full share for players on the Marlins is $10,424.45.

In the final month of the season, players on the Marlins voted for their shares. In all, the team

awarded 49 full shares, 7.28 partial shares and seven cash awards.

Bonus money is awarded to the first and second place teams in each division. The Marlins won 87 games, second behind the Phillies in the NL East.

A full share for the World Series champion Yankees is $365,052.73. The Phillies received $265,357.50 for a full share.

The Marlins placed second for the third time in their history. The organization has never won the division. The only Florida clubs to win more games were 1997 (92) and 2003 (91). Both of those squads reached the playoffs via the Wild Card, and they went on to capture the World Series crown.

— Joe Frisaro