Marlins Spring Training Competition: Tom Koehler Locking Down Fifth Rotation Spot?


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

Three weeks from today, the Colorado Rockies will be in Miami to take on the Marlins on Opening Day. We already know that Jose Fernandez will be on the mound and Giancarlo Stanton will be patrolling right field.

We have a great idea about how the majority of the roster will shape out, but there are still two main on-going competitions. The center field battle continues to between Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick. The fifth starting rotation spot seems to be a run-a-away for incumbent fifth starter, Tom Koehler.

Center Field Battle:

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Ozuna, the favorite to win the job outright, has not fared well thus far this spring. Although his four walks in 22 plate appearances are nice, his nine early strikeouts are a bit concerning. Is he going to be suckered into swinging at bad pitches out of the zone regularly during the season? His lack of power as a major league player is also concerning.

Marisnick on the other hand has just 12 plate appearances and while the numbers look good, scouts are in unanimous belief that his swing now needs some tweaking in the minor leagues.

I felt at the end of the season that both Marisnick and Ozuna need more time in the minors. With the way camp has gone so far, maybe the Marlins could opt to go another direction and allow the duo to gain more experience in AAA?

Ozuna continues to be the favorite to win the role outright, but I do believe the Marlins need to keep an open mind about letting Ozuna start the season in the minors if he continues to struggle with the strikeout issues.

Fifth Starter Battle:

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Last week, we mentioned that the final starting rotation spot seemed to be Brad Hand‘s to lose, especially with him being out of options. Hand has not been terrible this spring, as his control has been better, but he has not seized the moment as of yet. Even if Hand misses out on the rotation, I am liking his chances of making the team as a reliever. The fact that he’s out of minor league options tilt the decision in his favor slightly.

The guy that is now the front-runner for the final rotation spot has to be Tom Koehler. He is actually picking off where he ended last season, when he made five starts (28 2/3 innings), posting a 3.14 ERA, allowing 23 hits, 10 walks, 14 strikeouts and a .225 opponents’ batting average.

Koehler retired 12 of the 13 hitters he faced on Sunday, against the Detroit Tigers. The lone hit he allowed was a single to former Marlin Miguel Cabrera.

Flynn’s control has continued to look spotty this spring, despite it never being an issue last season for the lefty. He seems destined to start the season in Triple-A and work out the kinks, but there is still enough time for him to prove himself this spring.

Heaney and Conley both have flashed brilliance this spring, but both are going to be cut before the regular season starts. Each still has some work to finish in the minor leagues before they get their official promotion.

Two weeks into the spring, one of the competitions remains wide open while the other barley seems like a competition at this point. Hopefully the next week can provide clarity on what the Marlins roster could look like come opening day.