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.

Dodgers to retire Fernando Valenzuela’s No. 34 this summer

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers will retire the No. 34 jersey of pitcher Fernando Valenzuela during a three-day celebration this summer.

Valenzuela was part of two World Series champion teams, winning the 1981 Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards. He was a six-time All-Star during his 11 seasons in Los Angeles from 1980-90.

He will be honored from Aug. 11-13 when the Dodgers host Colorado.

Valenzuela will join Pee Wee Reese, Tommy Lasorda, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Jim Gilliam, Don Sutton, Walter Alston, Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson and Don Drysdale with retired numbers.

“To be a part of the group that includes so many legends is a great honor,” Valenzuela said. “But also for the fans, the support they’ve given me as a player and working for the Dodgers, this is also for them.”