Marlins demote struggling starter Chris Volstad to Triple-A

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Chris Volstad went 8-4 with a 2.83 ERA through his first 20 starts after debuting as a 21-year-old in mid-2008, but he’s just 11-21 with a 5.36 ERA in 41 starts since then and today the Marlins demoted him back to Triple-A.
What’s interesting about Volstad’s fall from grace is that the underlying numbers within his performance really haven’t changed that much. His strikeout rate, walk rate, and ground-ball percentage have more or less remained constant each season and his yearly Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) figures are 4.59, 4.32, and 4.43.
The big differences have been more balls in play falling for hits, fewer runners being stranded on base, and teams running at will on him. Opponents going 20-for-21 stealing bases in just 98 innings this season is certainly on Volstad, but the other stuff is mostly some combination of luck, defense, and the life of a pitch-to-contact ground-ball starter.
His career xFIP is 4.43 and his career ERA is 4.42, so the secondary numbers tell a very accurate story as long as you’re willing to focus on the big picture. Volstad wasn’t as good as he looked right away and isn’t as bad as he’s looked recently, and as a 23-year-old starter with a 4.43 ERA in 338 career innings–including a decent enough 4.45 mark this season–you’d think the Marlins would have a little more patience.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.