In a surprising, yet warranted move Tuesday, the Miami Marlins designated pitcher Jacob Turner for assignment. The demotion inevitably led to the Marlins losing the once-coveted prospect, and as ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (also known as “Ralph”) reports today, the Chicago Cubs have claimed the big right-hander off waivers.
Sure, Turner, who’s just 23 years of age, was having an abysmal year down in South Beach, but, realistically, it’s not as if the Marlins have a good shot of making it to the postseason. In fact, Fangraphs gives them a paltry 4.9% chance of making the playoffs and just a 3.0% possibility of advancing to the divisional series.
So, really I ask, why not keep the youngster in the hope he hones his craft the final two months of the season? He had been making strides of late, and pitched to the tune of a 3.18 ERA the month of July. August started off rough, as he allowed five earned runs in four innings in his most recent start against the lowly Cincinnati Reds’ offense. Yet still, at least to me, it’s rather bizarre to give up on him this early.
His 4.00 FIP suggests he’s pitched better than his actual ERA shows, and his unsustainable .368 BABIP and 64.0 LOB% (left on base percentage) likely will deviate towards the National League average of a .294 BABIP and 73.2 LOB%, meaning his run prevention total will probably improve. Plus, his minor-league track record is phenomenal, so hopefully he’ll modify his approach to better combat MLB hitters sooner rather than later.
However, skepticism circulating around his repertoire has been his Achilles’ Heel. His curveball has been largely ineffective this year, but in the past it’s been his paramount pitch. He complements the big breaking pitch with a changeup that isn’t used often and an assortment of fastballs. Turner’s gone to his two-seam fastball the most frequently this season, and has held hitters to a .788 OPS off it — which is very solid for a non-off-speed pitch.
If he is able to pitch better with his Pitch F/X classified regular fastball — which hitters have demolished for an astonishing 1.060 OPS this year — then he could very well be the mid-rotation starter he was projected to become. Or, as former relief pitcher and Fox Sports’ analyst C.J. Nitkowski advocates in his recent column for Just a Bit Outside, Turner could be transitioned to a reliever.
“If it were me, I’d turn Jacob Turner into a two-pitch reliever with a potential 7th or 8th inning role. Those two pitches would be his two-seam fastball and his curveball.
His two-seam fastball touches 96, sits 92-93 and has the life and movement you cannot teach. The GB% on that pitch was a strong 63.6% this year with 0 HR allowed. His curveball can be hellacious, in 2013 he posted a .147 batting average against and a 27:2 K:BB ratio with his breaking pitch. Inexplicably, he has used it half as much this year.
As is common, it is very likely Turner would see a velocity jump as a reliever. Couple that with a simpler repertoire and shorter outings and you may just develop a dominant setup man. Come to think of it, the Marlins could really use a guy like that.”
Preach it. If the Marlins were really ready to give up on Turner as a starter then making him a full-time reliever the rest of the year was wise. Oh, and by the way, did I mention Jacob Turner compiled a 1.92 FIP out of the bullpen with the Marlins this year? No? Well, nevertheless, Theo Epstein just got himself a steal of a deal.