Before the Marlins commenced their spending spree this offseason, they had already added depth to their pitching rotation by trading with the Padres to acquire Wade LeBlanc. After Miami’s busy offseason, it looked as though LeBlanc would be confined to the bullpen or the minor leagues as a starter, but he made his case for the rotation Friday night as the Marlins hosted the Nationals.
LeBlanc started, threw four innings, struck out five, and most importantly, out-dueled Stephen Strasburg in his second outing of the spring. Out of his 53 pitches, 42 came in for strikes, and he was in command the entire night. After the game, LeBlanc spoke of the importance of “being able to fill up the strike zone.” Giving up too many walks will kill any team defensively, as walks allow a batter, who has the chance to score, to reach base for free.
Bryan Petersen led off the third inning with a single off Strasburg, and with one out Jose Reyes drove a triple to centerfield, scoring Petersen. Emilio Bonifacio followed that up with a single to left, as the Marlins took a 2-0 lead in a game they would win 3-0.
The Marlins have a plethora of pitchers competing for spots in the bullpen. J.D. Martin is in a similar situation to LeBlanc–he has history as a starter, but would fit the Marlins better in a long-relief role. He threw one inning, allowed one hit, and recorded a strikeout. Edward Mujica is projected to be a seventh or eighth inning reliever and was dominant in his one inning on Friday, allowing one hit, but striking out the side. And Sandy Rosario, who, if he is to make the team, needs to work better on his toss-ups to fans, closed out the game with a perfect ninth.
Josh Johnson starts next for the Marlins this afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium. Miami is 3-2 so far in Spring Training, and they have not suffered any major setbacks.