Don’t look now, but the Miami Marlins have won three of their last four games and a currently just a half game behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the surprisingly cramped National League East. The reason for the Marlins unforeseen success this year has been their bats. Led by MVP-candidate Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins are second in the National League in runs, batting average, and OPS and are third in home runs. Last night, however, the Marlins had to rely on an arm, not a bat, to get them a win against the San Francisco Giants.
The Marlins earned a 5-0 win against the team with the second-best record in the National League thanks in part to the arm of 27 year-old Tom Koehler. Koehler threw 7 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out seven. Koehler lowered his ERA to 2.25 for the season and owns a microscopic 1.40 ERA in May. In just four starts in May, Koehler has thrown at least seven innings of no-run baseball an astounding three times.
Because of the news of Jose Fernandez’ devastating elbow injury, the Marlins need a pitcher to step up and take the reigns as the ace of the ball club. Koehler hopes to do just that. The Marlins have no shortage of potentially great starting pitching, with Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez joining Koehler at the front end of the rotation. If Jacob Turner can produce in the big leagues like he did in the minors and a 5th starter can emerge to replace Fernandez, the Marlins may be able to do something special.
While their future certainly looks bright, Koehler and his teammates surely want to make headlines now. Tom Koehler, the former 18th-round pick in 2008 and veteran of the Marlins rotation, will need to continue to perform as he did against the Giants last night if the Marlins hope to overcome the loss of Jose Fernandez and keep pace in the NL East.