With five wins, Caleb Smith leads the Marlins in pitching victories.
It’s a measly number for a staff leader. For that matter, it will represent a major league record if five wins is all it takes for a Marlins pitcher to lead the staff this season.
No staff wins leader in big-league history had fewer than six.
“I guess it shows you how hard it is to win a game in the major leagues,” said Marlins starter Dan Straily, who is one of five Marlins pitchers with four wins.
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Smith is injured and won’t pitch again this season. He’s stuck on five.
But unless Straily or any of the other four Marlins pitchers with four wins — Wei-Yin Chen, José Ureña, Drew Steckenrider and Drew Rucinski — don’t manage to win at least two more, the major league record will be broken.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the record for fewest wins by a team’s staff leader is six, which was set in 2015 by four members of the Phillies pitching staff: Ken Giles, Aaron Nola, Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang. Each won six games to lead Philadelphia.
No leader in pitching wins for the Marlins has ever finished with fewer than 10. Dontrelle Willis and Scott Olsen led the Marlins in 2007 with 10 wins each.
But this year’s Marlins’ staff is taking it to an all new low level.
“It takes so many things to go right for a starting pitcher to get a win,” said Straily, who has never finished with fewer than 10 wins in any of his three full seasons in the majors
Straily said he has counseled rookie pitcher Trevor Richards (3-7 going into his start Thursday against the Yankees) on what it takes to win games.
“I’ve told this to Trevor many times,” Straily said. “There are two ways to win. Put up all zeroes. Or (stink) less than the other guy.”
Many feel that pitching wins are an overblown statistic to begin with, dependent on factors beyond a starting pitcher’s performance. Run support is one of them. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom is a perfect example. deGrom is just 8-7 but has been saddled by terrible run support. He could win the Cy Young Award, anyway.
And a starter in line for a win might see it vaporize when the bullpen blows the lead he left behind. Straily, last season, handed over a lead nine times only for the bullpen to blow it and cost him the W.
“It shows you that wins and losses, they mean something to the team and not necessarily to the individual who gets it,” Straily said. “And that’s kind of the new philosophy I feel like baseball is going towards.
“That being said, everybody covets a win.”
The Marlins are hitting .213 this season in bases-loaded situations, one of the worst averages in the majors.
Never were their shortcomings in those situations more apparent than in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Yankees in 12 innings. Twice the Marlins were primed for the win by loading the bases — once in the ninth and again in the 11th — only to come up empty both times.
They had the bases loaded with no outs in the 11th but failed to score.
“We got ourselves in great position twice last night and you expect to win the game right then and there,” said manager Don Mattingly.
Mattingly said Marlins hitters need to think differently in those situations.
“Those are situations, when you get a little more experience, you understand that you’re not the guy in trouble,” Mattingly said. “The guy on the mound is the guy in trouble, and you have to look at it like that.”
Kyle Barraclough will likely make his return to the bullpen during the upcoming series against the Braves. But indications are outfielder Lewis Brinson will remain in the minors on rehab assignment as he continues to find his stroke at the plate.
Mattingly said he was pleased with Barraclough’s outing in a simulation game on Wednesday but wants to see how he is feeling Thursday before making a decision on whether to bring him off the disabled list for the Braves series.
Brinson has gone 1 for 18 with a home run while on rehab assignment with Double A Jacksonville.
“We’re encouraged by the fact he’s been healthy,” Mattingly said of Brinson, who has been out since July 3 with a hip injury. “(But) it doesn’t sound like the timing (with his swing) has been all that great. We do want him him to be sharp when he gets here.”
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