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Miami Marlins: Alex Sanabia and His Future in the Rotation


May 7, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Alex Sanabia (28) talks with catcher Miguel Olivo (21) during the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins made a tough decision last week when they moved struggling starter Wade LeBlanc from the rotation into the bullpen. LeBlanc had posted an ugly 5.79 ERA and a 4.94 FIP. He had only worked into the sixth inning twice in seven starts and the Marlins decided to move Tom Koehler into the starting rotation.

Alex Sanabia has continued to struggle in 2013, posting a 4.85 ERA and an even uglier 5.66 FIP. Sanabia has only struck out (22) two more hitters than he has walked (20) in 2013. His 1.72 WHIP has been unimpressive, as he rarely has a clean inning 1-2-3 inning.

When Sanabia takes the mound, often times, the game gets out of reach before the Marlins even have a chance to get their offense going.

Tonight could be a huge start for Sanabia against a hot hitting Reds lineup. The Marlins have already shown they are losing patience with inept performances by yanking LeBlanc from the rotation, so Alex could be walking a tight rope tonight.

If he does end up struggling again tonight, the Marlins do have a couple of options on their 40-man roster they could bring up to take Sanabia’s spot in the rotation in Sam Dyson, Brad Hand, Duane Below, and Jacob Turner.

Both Dyson and Turner are right handed pitchers and Hand and Below are southpaws. Here is a quick look at their 2013 numbers (all in Triple-A, except Dyson):

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Turner is the only real prospect of the quartette. However, he struggled with his control in spring training and is finally putting things back together in Triple-A, so I highly doubt the Marlins will give him a call-up right away. Turner is still not striking out enough hitter in Triple-A for the Marlins to trust him in the majors.

I still believe a little more seasoning in the minors and a late season call-up for Turner will be the best route for the Marlins to take with Turner. He has already been rushed to the majors once by the Detroit Tigers, no need to do it again.

The Marlins claimed Sam Dyson off of waivers from the Blue Jays back in January and he has pitched in Double-A for the Suns since. Like Turner, Dyson does not strike out enough minor league hitters to warrant a chance in the big leagues. Dyson has decent numbers in Double-A, but the Marlins would be wise to allow him to get more work in at that level and then some work in Triple-A.

The third option for the Marlins, Below, has had the most major league success of the four. The Marlins claimed Below off of waivers from the Detroit Tigers near the end of April and assigned him to Triple-A New Orleans to be an option for the bullpen down the road. Below also made 4 starts in Triple-A with the Tigers and pitched to an 2.10 ERA and a 3.01 FIP.

Below owns a career 4.06 ERA and a 4.14 FIP. He controls his walks to make up for lower K rate. Below has only made three career major league starts, but his minor league track record suggests he could handle a starters role for short periods.

The final option is a player most Marlins fans are familiar with. Brad Hand is always a fun player for Marlins fans to see pitch because the jokes about his name are limitless. Out of the four, Hand probably has the best stuff for a major league rotation, but often has bouts with control issues. Hand’s ERA looks nice, but he has gotten lucky with stranding runners on base, as LOB% sits at 85%.

Hand’s numbers in the majors are actually fairly similar to Sanabia’s numbers in the majors this season, so he in no way would be a huge upgrade over Sanabia.

While none of the options seem to be great ones for the Fish, the reality is that Sanabia has likely outlived his stint with the Marlins. He has not thrown well all season and has proven to not be a major league starter full-time. The Marlins have these four options on their 40-man roster to give a shot to see how they fare.

The Marlins also have Brian Flynn pitching well in Triple-A, but with the team already facing huge roster decisions with players returning from injuries soon, the team would be wise to let him season with the Suns and give him a shot when he is ready later in the season.

Sanabia has a start tonight against the Cincinnati Reds to prove that he belongs in the Marlins rotation, if he does not perform well, the Marlins could show him the door, like they did with LeBlanc.

What do you guys think, does Sanabia deserve a longer leash or should the Marlins make the move? Let us know in the comment section.