Not just in the National League East, but in the NATIONAL LEAGUE….
That’s right- I said it.
Forget their woeful defense. Which makes more errors than our last president (HAY-YOO! Political jokes!). And a bullpen who’s mostly comprised of journey men with power arms. But the lineup these guys are packing right now is legit, despite their tendency to often strikeout.
Hanley Ramirez is arguably the second best hitter in all of baseball behind Albert Pujols. Dan Uggla is the best power-hitting second basemen in the league and rookie third basemen, Emilo Bonfacio has superstar written all over him. Even with that offense, you can still argue it’s the third best in their own division behind the Mets and Phillies. It’s their starting pitching that is quickly becoming the best rotation in their division and arguably in the league. And it’s that rotation that can and may separate them from the other teams in the league as the season goes on.
The performance Josh Johnson had in his first week of the 2009 season was beyond remarkable, (15.2 IP, 2 W, 1 CG, 15 K, 0.57 ERA, .83 WHIP, 8.62 K/9). The guy was clocking 97-mph thru the third inning yesterday as he out pitched baseball’s best pitcher.
Prior to missing most of the 2007 and 2008 season because of Tommy John surgery, Josh Johnson was a sinker ball pitcher with a lot of upside. Now, Johnson is a fireballer- throwing high heat that hitters are struggling to catch up to. To me, watching him yesterday was similar to the first time I ever saw Josh Beckett pitch (vs. the Mets early in the 2004- he was wearing the #61 and knocking on the door of clocking 100-mph for six innings).
So as the season goes on, and it becomes evident that John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey, Joe Blanton, Brett Myers, and Jamie Moyer don’t have the stuff needed to get outs and go deep into ball games- don’t be surprised if the Marlins young starting pitchers to pave their way to playoff baseball.