Was Dillon Peters’ outing Friday the best major league debut by a starting pitcher in Marlins history?
Better than Josh Beckett’s?
Better than Jose Fernandez’s?
Better than Dontrelle Willis’?
Based on a formula designed by Bill James, one of the founding fathers of sabermetrics, it was.
Peters registered a “Game Score” of 76 for a performance in which he delivered seven scoreless innings. That’s one point better than Chris Volstad’s big-league debut with the Marlins in 2002 when he recorded a 75.
(The formula is determined by adding points for such items as outs recorded and innings completed while deducting for hits, walks and earned runs allowed.)
“He was outstanding,” said catcher A.J. Ellis, who was behind the plate for Peters’ debut. “Any pitcher to throw a game like that — 200 starts in or first start of career — it’s a high-quality major league start.”
It was Peters’ curveball that most impressed Ellis. According to Brooks Baseball, Peters complemented his low-90s fastball with a breaking ball he threw with 36 of his 91 total pitches.
“He may not be that physically imposing,” Ellis said of the 5-foot-9-inch Peters. “But his breaking ball sure has a lot of teeth. It’s an angry breaking ball. It gets to the hitting zone and disappears under the bat.”
Peters whiffed eight to equal Fernandez’s team record for most strikeouts by a Marlins pitcher in his big-league debut.
He said he felt butterflies when he first took the mound, which is to be expected and could account for the fact he threw 22 pitches in the first inning.
But he settled into a rhythm after that, requiring just 37 pitches to complete the next four innings.
“It was pretty awesome, from the first pitch to the last pitch,” Peters said. “I’d say it was everything I expected.”
From a historical perspective, it was a better debut performance than Fernandez’s (game score of 64), Beckett’s (72), Willis’ (51), and A.J. Burnett’s (57).
“He has a lot to be proud of, a lot to be excited about there,” Ellis said.
Chen almost ready
Wei-Yin Chen’s long absence is about to end. Chen, who has been out since May 1 with arm issues, could be back with the Marlins in a matter of days. But he’ll likely be used in relief.
Chen worked two innings out of the bullpen Friday in his final rehab outing for Single A Jupiter.
The trick, said manager Don Mattingly, will be figuring out how and when to employ Chen, who has been used strictly as a starter during his major league career.
Because starters take longer to warm up, Mattingly might have to look for spots where Chen doesn’t have to prepare quickly in the bullpen.
“I’m not sure how much time he’s going to need,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, in the bullpen, you don’t have that kind of time.”
Chen still expects to start next season, health permitting.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (12-6, 3.84) vs. Philadelphia Phillies RHP Jake Thompson (1-1, 5.40), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.