Today our 2014 season preview extends into the Miami Marlins bullpen. The Marlins bullpen will welcome the addition of a few new players to strengthen a group that was very solid last year. We will cover the whole bullpen minus closer Steve Cishek, whom we will leave for Monday.
First we will start with the Marlins 8th inning pitcher, A.J. Ramos. Ramos pitched masterfully last year, showing some grit, and has some believing in south Florida that he could be a pretty solid closer. Ramos will likely start the season in the same set-up position as last year, even with the arrival of Carter Capps, a solid 8th inning guy in his own right.
The lefty-specialist role will again fall to Mike Dunn, who since arriving from the Braves in the Dan Uggla trade, has been excellent for Miami in that spot. Dunn is brutal on lefties and his position couldn’t be more solid heading into the season for Miami. Look for Dunn to repeat his success again in 2014.
These are the positions that we feel confident are set for the Marlins in 2014, but they have some interesting options moving forward from here. The first is Dan Jennings. Jennings has really been an enigma in his time with Miami. He has pitched well in the minor leagues, but really struggled when pitching for the big club. That being said, Miami desperately wants him to add another solid lefty to the back-end of the bullpen. If he has a good spring, look for him to earn a spot.
That leaves us with newly acquired Carlos Marmol. The Marmol signing was an interesting one, as it seems like Marmol’s strengths are redundant in the Marlins’ bullpen. Cishek, Ramos, and Capps all are power righties capable of getting an out or two, which could leave Marmol as the odd-man out. The Marlins still have to tab a long-reliever to the list, a role that will likely go to either Tom Koehler, or if he makes the starting rotation, Kevin Slowey. I can’t see the Marlins keeping seven relievers, as they need the extra player on the bench. One option could be to demote Jennings if he struggles during the spring, and Marmol would fill that spot.
Another scenario that I can see involves using Marmol as trade bait. They may give him an expanded role at the start of the season, hoping that he regains some of his previous magic, allowing the Marlins to get a prospect or two in return midway through the season.
One player that doesn’t have to worry about getting a spot in the bullpen is Carter Capps. The young right-hander that came over from Seattle in the trade for Logan Morrison has a very bright future, and figures to be a 7th-inning guy right from the start. If either Ramos or Cishek struggle, Capps is next in line to get that role.
If Capps, Ramos, and Cishek pitch to their abilities, the Marlins have one of the best 7th, 8th, and 9th inning pitchers in the National League. The Marlins’ bullpen is shaping up to be even stronger than last year. This group is the most talented that the Marlins have, even better than their young pitching staff. Marlins’ fans should be very excited about what this bullpen should be able to accomplish this year. The expectations are there, now it is time to see them produce.