As Derek Jeter tries to continue steering the Miami Marlins in the right direction, big moves can't necessarily be made in free agency to build the pitching staff. For the most part, this team has to work with what it's got.
One of the pitchers the team is giving an opportunity to is Nick Neidert, a 24-year-old who came to them in a deal that sent Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners.
Neidert has what they call a "live arm," but that becomes useless unless you know where to place the ball. So that is the challenge he is going to have to overcome if he is going to have an impact in the major leagues.
As he gets ready to take the mound on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, Neidert is encountering the kind of issues that plague many young pitchers, but perhaps to a greater degree. He has thrown nine innings in 2021, and walked nine batters.
Will playing the "go against" strategy work for us?
Here's the setup:
Baltimore Orioles vs. Miami Marlins Pick
Orioles vs. Marlins Betting Preview
When: 6:40 PM ET (Tuesday)
Money Line: Marlins -127 / Orioles +107
Total: Over 8 Runs -110 / Under 8 Runs -110
Run Line: Marlins -1.5 Runs (+155) / Orioles +1.5 Runs (-175)
Control did not seem to be a problem for Neidert in his first few years of pro ball, and in fact he was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year in 2018.
But difficulties started to develop when he moved up. In 2019, he began pitching for Miami's Triple-A affiliate in New Orleans; however, that stint got interrupted when he suffered a torn meniscus that required surgery, two months on the shelf and another month doing rehab assignments. Upon his return to the starting rotation, he walked 22 batters in 41 innings. To compound matters, he gave up more than a hit per inning as well. The result was a bloated ERA of 5.05.
So although he professed to be 100%, one might speculate that the effects - and after-effects - of the knee injury threw him off to the point where it had a negative impact on his control. But then he proceeded to tear up the Arizona Fall League (1.25 ERA and just two walks).
Of course, the minor leagues were thrown completely off-balance last season, and the Marlins had to put Neidert on the 40-man roster or else risk losing him through the Rule 5 draft. So he was able to make his big league debut in 2020, with only 8-1/3 innings of work and just two walks, but he also gave up five runs on ten hits.
So it's been one thing or the other with him.
Miami is not going to throw him on the scrapheap. They like what he can bring to the table and he has a good reputation as one of those "quality people" you like to have around the locker room.
The big question here is whether Baltimore can exploit his weaknesses enough for us to fade him.
For what it's worth, we should mention that the Orioles haven't exactly been much good about drawing walks out of opposing pitchers, as only three teams have earned fewer. Baltimore's hitters have by far the worst ratio of strikeouts to bases on balls in the American League; they are neck-and-neck with Colorado for the worst ratio in either loop.
The O's will send Matt Harvey to the hill on Tuesday. You know Harvey; he started the All-Star Game in 2013 as a member of the Mets, and he was going to be the next Tom Seaver and so forth. Then, after suffering through Tommy John surgery, he came back in 2015 with another outstanding season.
And that's the last year he's been effective. Now he is getting what amounts to a last chance with Baltimore. He's got some control going for himself (three walks in 14-1/3 innings). But if you go back these last couple of seasons you'll see that he's walked 34 batters in 61 innings. And he didn't even get twelve innings complete for the Royals last year before giving up six round-trippers.
So in other words, we've seen a small sample in 2021. With each start, we see a bigger one.
The Orioles don't really hold what we'd call a decisive bullpen edge here, and the Marlins have won six of their last eight games, even after Sunday's shutout loss to the Giants.
You can't stay in the big leagues long if you walk a batter an inning. So are we fading Neidert? Nope, we're fading the Orioles, because (1) they don't seem to want to take a walk, and (2) you don't really know what you're getting with Harvey, except that it usually has not been associated with quality starts.
The Play: MIAMI (-127)
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