Feb 28, 2014; Jupiter, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler (34) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Koehler or Brad Hand; Who's Getting that Fifth Spot?

One of the more fun things to watch for in Spring Training are all the open battles for a place on the 25 man roster. For the Marlins, they’re weren’t too many open spots to talk about, but a specific battle is starting to get hot.

The race for the fifth rotation spot is now down to just incumbent Tom Koehler and Brad Hand. Both are playing very well  and both are making the Marlins think pretty hard about who exactly they want in their rotation.

Brad Hand is a left handed pitcher who has definitely worked his way up to be in this position for the Marlins. Originally a second round pick coming out of high school, Brad Hand made his Major League Debut in 2011 and has bounced around from the Major’s to Triple A. Last season he spent most of the year in Triple A and got only a few spot starts. Hand is now out of Minor League options so if doesn’t make the team out of camp, he will have to be designated for assignment or traded. He’s pitching extremely well this spring as his numbers are ridiculous, with an 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings, and all while walking just two.

Hand has struggled with control, but it seems like he has put those concerns behind him this year. He definitely wouldn’t be a bad option for the team, especially since he also provides value in being a southpaw as well. He can definitely put into a long relief role, so he provides some versatility as well. However, Hand has some issues with game consistency as opposing hitters tend to get to him during their second time at the plate.

Tom Koehler, however, has also worked incredibly hard to get to this position. He signed with the Marlins after the 2008 MLB draft and has torn up the Minors in the process. He won the Southern League pitcher of the year, for Double A, during the 2010 season and made his Major League debut in 2012. Koehler was the spot pitcher for last year’s team as he was called up a few times when the team needed some pitching depth. Koehler eventually became the de-facto fifth starter for the team and did well enough to be considered the front runner this year. Koehler is a worker type of pitcher who, when on the top of his game, can shut down offenses with effective pitch selection and counts. Koehler also worked extremely well out of the bullpen last year, showing the necessary versatility needed to make the team.

He has a few options left, so if he doesn’t make the team it is not as final as would be with Brad Hand.

Both these pitchers fit the mold that would work for the Marlins team, so it will all depend on what the team thinks would be best. Personally, I think Koehler is better suited for the rotation since he is better suited to pitch deeper into games. I think Hand would be a shutdown lefty specialist that could help bolster an already strong bullpen.

Who do you think will win this matchup? The Southpaw or the Journeyman? Does it matter who wins or who gets sent to the bullpen? Was I just talking a bunch of crap? (Ok, maybe yes on that part) But tell us what you think in the comments down below.

Till next time, Go Marlins!

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Tags: Brad Hand Miami Marlins Tom Koehler

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