The Marlins are apparently almost set on their rotation, and it seems Clay Hensley may have just won himself a spot, based on this Tweet by Juan C. Rodriguez. Now, one Tweet a real report does not make, but with Fredi Gonzalez mentioning that Hensley had the inside track, this news does not surprise me.
What does that mean for the rotation situation as of now? Well, the team appears to be set to announce the rotation by Sunday, and the names were fairly close to what I thought:
1. Josh Johnson
2. Ricky Nolasco
3. Anibal Sanchez
4. Chris Volstad
5. Clay Hensley
Volstad it appears has solidified his spot with his last two solid outings. It seemed Sanchez was going to win a spot just on the merit of his $1.25M salary this season, though I don’t suspect he’ll survive the entire year in the rotation given his injury history. Truthfully, Volstad was probably going to win the fourth spot unless he had a disastrous spring, which he basically did outside of the last two outings.
Fredi has been preaching about staying in the strike zone and avoiding walks, which is the primary reason why Hensley is going to start in the fifth spot. I am interested about what this means for Rick VandenHurk. Hurk has another option left and could head off to Triple-A New Orleans to join Andrew Miller, who was officially sent down today as well. VandenHurk hasn’t looked much worse than Volstad or Sanchez, but with the options and the lack of status as a premium prospect, there is a good shot he will be sent down.
Unclear as of yet is who will receive the nod as the last bullpen pitcher. The Marlins mentioned before that they wanted a swingman type, and VandenHurk could fit that profile. Hayden Penn is also in the mix, but Penn has been as bad or worse than VandenHurk this spring. The only major advantage he has is that he has no options left and would have to be put through waivers before going to the minors. If the Marlins looked to the guys with the best spring stats (ugh), they might find either Tim Wood or veteran Scott Strickland appealing, but neither fit the mold of the pitcher they said they wanted.
What we do know is that Hensley will take the mound the first time the team needs a fifth starter. Whether he stays in that spot remains to be seen, though it’s almost a guarantee that he won’t. Then again, with the injury history of Sanchez, we will probably have to call his number along with Hurk and maybe even Miller and Sean West this season one way or another. One of the things this season will depend upon is whether Volstad, Sanchez, and the rest of the ragtag bunch behind JJ and Ricky can post numbers close to the league average or a bit below.