Ranger Suárez offers simplest explanation possible for his poor start

The left-handed Cy Young contender had an off-day on Sunday, putting up his second-shortest outing of the season, but there's little reason to be concerned.
Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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On Sunday afternoon, Ranger Suárez finally proved to be human.

Coming into the game, the Miami Marlins were struggling mightily against left-handed starters to the tune of a 4-25 record when facing a southpaw. Two days prior to Suárez's start, that trend held when the newly extended Cristopher Sánchez took the mound and threw a three-hit, complete-game shutout.

With Suárez on the hill for the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, many fans expected more of the same from one of the Cy Young front-runners. Instead, the 28-year-old came back down to Earth a bit, putting up his second-shortest outing of the season.

Ranger Suárez offers simplest explanation possible for his poor start

According to Paul Casella of MLB.com, when talking with interpreter Diego D’Aniello, Suárez gave a very matter-of-fact response about his performance: "I just had a bad day as every other pitcher in the league does. It's just about coming back and turning the page."

In 4 2/3 innings, he was knocked around for two walks, nine hits and six earned runs. For the first time since July 23, 2021, he didn't record at least one strikeout.

On Sunday, what he was missing the most was getting swings and misses. As Casella noted on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Marlins handed the worst whiff rate of his career as a starter:

The whiff rate could be something to monitor based on Suárez's last couple of starts, and Casella noted his previous start against the Detroit Tigers was also unusually low. And to go along with that, he has only eight punchouts over the last three starts.

In the end, though, the team rallied Sunday for a 7-6 win behind strong performances from the bullpen, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm and Nick Castellanos to pick Suárez up and split the series with the visiting Marlins.

Manager Rob Thomson spoke with the media after the game and noted: "Ranger wasn't at his best today ... I thought the command was short today or shorter than it normally is. But he fought, and he gave us what he could."

Over the course of a full year of starts, there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Until this point in the season, the left-hander had been nearly unhittable. Through his first 16 starts, he posted a 10-2 record with a 1.83 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. Opponents were hitting just .199 against him.

Even after Sunday's outing, his ERA jumped from a minuscule 1.83 to a still minuscule 2.27, and his WHIP is sitting at .098. And the average against bumped up to .211. Overall, his ERA is still second in all of MLB, behind only Seth Lugo of the Kansas City Royals, and he's still the leader in the National League, ahead of teammates Sánchez and Zack Wheeler.

This one disappointing outing isn't enough to detract from the overall year he is having and the fact that he has a legitimate chance to bring home some impressive hardware. ESPN's Cy Young predictor still has Suárez well in the lead for the award, even after the less-than-stellar outing, while FanGraphs still has him as a strong contender.

On Saturday, Suárez will have a chance to rebound when he takes the mound against the division-rival Atlanta Braves.

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