By Jason Shetler
Way back in 2006, the then Florida Marlins signed Jhan Marinez as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic. He made his MLB debut with the Marlins in 2010 as a 21-year-old.
In 2011, Marinez was one of two players traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of a deal to have Ozzie Guillen become manager of the Marlins in 2012. For the next few years, he pitched exclusively in the minors, with the Tigers AAA team Toledo and the Dodgers former AA affiliate Chattanooga. After pitching for Durham, the Rays AAA club in 2015, Marinez re-signed with Tampa Bay on a minor league contract prior to last season. He appeared in three games with the Rays, before getting dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash. Marinez performed well for Milwaukee, posting a 3.68 ERA and a 122 ERA+ in 30 appearances.
Entering this season, Marinez was looking to build off the success he had with Milwaukee a year ago. The Brewers however decided to cut ties, as they designated him for assignment on May 14th. While he did have an ERA of 5.40, his BABIP indicated extreme bad luck at .396.
A week after being DFA’d, the Pirates claimed Marinez off waivers from the Brewers. The 28-year-old righty has been terrific to this point for the Bucs, with a 2.25 ERA, a Fielding Independent Pitching of 3.04 and a 1.15 WHIP in 15 games. Marinez is putting up a 56% groundball rate this year, thanks in part to a steady diet of two-seam fastballs that he is throwing about 61% of the time. According to FanGraphs’ Pitch Values, his slider has been a very effective secondary pitch. Since joining the Pirates, Marinez has kept the walks down, with a 2.7 BB/9, while his K/9 is at 8.1, which is a solid mark, especially for a groundball pitcher. Outside of Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio, the Pirates bullpen has had inconsistencies, with the struggles of Daniel Hudson and Tony Watson, as well as the recent regression of Wade LeBlanc, so Marinez has given them a much needed shot in the arm thus far. During the Pirates three year playoff stretch from 2013-2015, manager Clint Hurdle used Jared Hughes in tight spots to strand inherited baserunners, because of his ability to induce groundballs with regularity. Perhaps Hurdle could begin using Marinez in more high leverage situations, and utilize him in that same role.