Right-hander impresses new club working in mopup duty
By Curt Hogg
MILWAUKEE -- His usage may be irregular and his innings may come when the game's outcome often already has been decided, but Jhan Marinez has been precisely what the Brewers could ask for from a mopup reliever.
In his first full season in the Majors, Marinez entered Friday with a 3.51 ERA and 3.79 FIP in 33 1/3 innings over 22 games. Milwaukee's record in those 22 contests? 5-17.
That poor team record, however, is not any sort of indictment of Marinez, who turned 28 years old Friday. For much of the time since coming over from the Rays on May 12 in exchange for cash, he served as the eighth reliever in the Crew's eight-man bullpen. Now, with seven relievers on the active roster, Marinez no longer holds that exact same role but often finds himself still eating innings during blowouts.
"He's kind of been the eighth man at some parts -- obviously he's not that at this point -- but when he was that eighth man, your innings might be two days in a row of two innings each and then seven days off," manager Craig Counsell said. "But those innings are important. He's covered those innings without the regular workload that the rest of the bullpen is getting."
In the Brewers' 7-4 loss Friday, Marinez surrendered two earned runs in his inning of work -- though they came on a blooper to right that wound up as an RBI ground-rule double and on an error by third baseman Jonathan Villar. Marinez entered the game with the Brewers trailing 3-0.
The average margin of victory for the winning team in Marinez's appearances is 5.3 runs (compared to 2.3 for current closer Tyler Thornburg), but the right-hander has displayed impressive stuff on the mound to those tuned in when he takes the mound -- a group that includes his skipper.
"What's been impressive about him, really, is that he's had stretches where he has not pitched for six days, seven days, and he's come in and still been effective," Counsell said. "And that's not easy. That's a credit to him."
Marinez made his big league debut as a 21-year-old during a brief stint with the Marlins, then appeared in just two games with the White Sox in 2012. He bounced around until landing his first long-term look at the Majors. With a biting sinker and slider, Marinez has struck out 9.2 batters per nine innings, though walks have hurt him at times.
Could there be late-inning, high-leverage innings in Marinez's future? There is still work to be done, Counsell notes, but his arm is electric enough for that to eventually become a reality.
"There's stuff in there, certainly," Counsell said. "Consistency is probably the next step, and it's the next step for any player. That's not unique to 'Jhanny' or unique to a reliever, it's unique to every player. At this level, the next step for a lot of guys is consistency."
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.