Jarred Cosart has not had a problem with velocity during his three seasons in the majors.
But increasing the effectiveness of his off-speed pitches is a primary goal for Cosart, whom the Marlins are counting on for depth in their starting rotation this season.
Cosart credited his struggles during his first start of the season this past Monday in New York to not being sharp enough with his location when he threw off-speed pitches, which led to his quick exit despite the Marlins’ 10-3 victory.
“I threw a lot of off-speed pitches in 2-2 counts and 2-1 counts, and then it would go 3-1 or 3-2,” Cosart said. “I haven’t gotten those down yet, and they ended up sitting on the fastball.”
The Marlins gave Cosart an eight-run cushion after three, but he was removed after 4 2/3 innings, having given up three earned runs on four hits and striking out only three.
“I was pretty heavy with the fastball early and got into some bad counts,” Cosart said. “This next start is about establishing my breaking ball early in the count and changeup as well, so I have them thinking more than one pitch so they’re not sitting waiting for my fastball.”
Cosart will make his next start Sunday against the Braves, a team against which he has won all three of his career starts with a 1.66 ERA.
Manager Don Mattingly said the Marlins will be patient when it comes to addressing their bullpen woes.
A unit that was hit hard by injuries to Carter Capps and Mike Dunn before the season even began has been inconsistent through its first eight games.
While David Phelps (2-1, 2.25 ERA) has been a bright spot in his relief role, lefty Chris Narveson has struggled (six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings entering Saturday’s game). Right-hander Bryan Morris has allowed three runs in five appearances, but he gave up the two go-ahead runs during Friday’s loss to the Braves.
“It’s been some good, some bad, like everything with us so far,” Mattingly said. “We try to always put our guys in a good position, but we’ve asked a lot. They’ve been throwing a lot of innings. You just have to figure out how to get your outs. All those guys have different styles and get outs differently.”
Mattingly said the team likely won’t rush to call up power arms such as Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington, who are starting the season at Triple A New Orleans. Both looked strong toward the end of last season and came close to earning roster spots this spring.
“We’ve had a tendency here to bring up guys right away in the past, but I think we’re trying to let those guys develop a little bit, knowing we’re going to need them,” Mattingly said.
Though he was unable to secure his first victory with the team, Wei-Yin Chen’s mostly solid start Friday 10 days after being hit with a line drive was encouraging for multiple reasons.
Chen entered the seventh inning having allowed only one hit before he allowed three consecutive hits and a run, which led to his removal. The Marlins bullpen was unable to protect the lead.
“In the first inning and maybe a couple of innings after that, I was able to hit my spots, and that’s why I got those double plays,” Chen said. “In the seventh, maybe I was trying to be a little too perfect to hit the corners. Unfortunately, I should have done better.”
Chen said the injury played no part in his struggles in the seventh, nor did his long rest between starts.
“I don’t think I was tired; I was just trying to do a better job and probably just missed some spots,” Chen said. “Having 10 days of rest can sometimes be too long for a starter, but I tried not to think too much about that and do my job. I feel pretty good now.”
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Cosart (0-0, 5.79 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 0.00), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez (0-1, 5.06) vs. Washington Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (1-1, 2.45), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.