Marlins Today

April 4, 2010 8:11 PM

Marlins acquire Nate Robertson to round out rotation

In my season preview, I said Clay Hensley was going to have to do a lot to win a job in the starting rotation. He posted a 0.55 ERA in 16.1 IP with 11 strikeouts and only one walk. Considering he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008, I'd say that qualifies as a lot. Still, it wasn't enough. On Wednesday, the Marlins traded minor league pitcher Jay Voss to the Tigers in exchange for Nate Robertson who will become the fifth starter.

What this really comes down to is two guys who were both fantastic in 2006 and had been terrible since before spring training this year where they both posted good numbers. Three years ago, Hensley went 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP while Robertson went 13-13, holding down a 3.84 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Since then, Hensley has only managed to post a 6.16 ERA in 89 MLB innings. However, Hensley surprised this spring, posting a 0.49 ERA in 18.1 innings. Robertson has managed to log more innings but the results have been just as bad. In 396 innings, he's only managed to hold down a 5.52 ERA with his strikeout totals diminishing every year. The latest 49.2 innings Robertson has gotten over that span were only fed to him because he's a lefty. Of the 28 games he pitched in in '09, only six of them were starts and sixteen of them lasted an inning or less. In theory, Robertson fielded a unique LOOGY/spot starter role last season before holding down a 2.70 ERA in 26.2 innings this spring. His left handed-ness is what kept him in the majors last year and it is what will give him a spot in the Marlins' rotation this year. Considering he and Hensley are virtually the same pitcher in every other regard (less than two years apart in age, 4.5 career xFIP to 4.4, career 1.41 WHIP to 1.47), it is the only major logical explanation as to why this move was made. I was never a huge fan of the strategy of having to have a lefty in the rotation but if it gives the Marlins an extra option even if it's not an improvement over what the Marlins had at the price of virtually nothing (Voss is a middle relief prospect at least another year away and the Tigers will pick nearly all of his $10 million salary this year), so be it. Of course it's disappointing for Hensley who locked a rotation spot up only to lose it in the final days of spring training but that's how spring training works. He still achieved his goal of making it back to the majors after believing his career was over.

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