Grapefruit Preview: Miami Marlins at Houston Astros, 6:05 PM


The exhausting and probably unnecessary-at-this-point Spring Training schedule drags on, with the Miami Marlins making their lone trip to Kissimmee to take on Jake Marisnick and his Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Friday’s game features a peculiar 6:05 PM first pitch, which will be delivered by Houston’s Lance McCullers. Brad Hand takes the mound for the Marlins.

Hand, who has been the subject of trade rumors in recent days, will be making his second spring start. He owns a 1.80 ERA for the spring which includes three relief appearances plus the one start. Hand is starting in place of former Astro Jarred Cosart, who has also been in the news, and is nursing a finger blister.

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The Marlins rotation has gotten much more interesting thanks to the potential Cosart scandal and with David Phelps having a solid spring. Hand appears to be the odd man out, but looks like he could make the team as a long reliever and spot starter. The 25-year-old is also out of options and has generated interest from other clubs, so there’s no doubt the Marlins would lose him if he were to be waived. The Marlins are thinking about rolling with three southpaws on the roster, which would include 13 pitchers instead of the traditional 12. That doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world to me, as it gives Mike Redmond room for creativity late in ballgames.

We might be looking at Miami’s Opening Day lineup (plus Ichiro) in tonight’s game:

1. Dee Gordon, 2B
2. Christian Yelich, LF
3. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
4. Michael Morse, 1B
5. Martin Prado, 3B
6. Marcell Ozuna, CF
7. Ichiro Suzuki, DH
8. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
9. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

You know, the more I see it, the more I love the look of that lineup. It appears very balanced, with speed and contact at the top of and more juicy power than Marlins fans have seen in years in the middle. With the exception of the two duds at the bottom, an argument could be made that the Marlins field the most formidable starting nine we’ve seen since the slugging Uggla/Hanley/Cantu infield of 2008. And people are taking notice:

That McCullers fellow the Astros are starting is a 21-year-old prospect who had a 5.47 ERA in High-A last season. The Astros number 10 prospect according to could be looking at a very rough outing if the Marlins lineup is locked in. Dallas Keuchel was scheduled to start but instead threw in a minor league game this morning because of the threat of rain in tonight’s game.

Before the game the Marlins reassigned roster hopeful Scott Sizemore to minor league camp:

Tonight’s game can be heard on Gameday Audio. Then, the Marlins and Astros are back at it again tomorrow in a rematch at Roger Dean Stadium.

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