Miami Marlins: Start by committee the likeliest option on Sunday

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly says he doesn’t know who will be starting on Sunday against the Dodgers. Last nights game provided a big clue of who to expect.

After Tom Koehler was sent to the minor leagues, further examination revealed an injury that would require time on the disabled list. The Miami Marlins voided the demotion, and Koehler was placed on the 10-day DL instead. So the question remains: who will take over his spot in the rotation in his absence?

In a corresponding move, the Marlins recalled pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne. It was unclear what Despaigne’s role would be when rejoining the team, but last night provided some clarity.

In a losing effort, the Miami Marlins tabbed Despaigne to hold the the deficit at three; he failed. In his one inning of work, Despaigne surrendered two runs and deflated any chance of a ninth inning rally. However, after appearing in the game last night, it became clear that the Fish don’t intend to use him as a starter on Sunday.

That’s good news, because Despaigne hasn’t been able to get outs without giving up a flurry of runs first.

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That leaves David Phelps. Phelps has been a successful spot starter for the Fish in the past. He has started full time for the Marlins and Yankees at various points throughout his career, but has bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen. It appears it would be more of the same if he were to start on Sunday.

Don Mattingly has expressed a desire to keep Phelps to one role. Because of his varied workload last season, Phelps appeared in a career high 64 games, starting five of them, and recording four saves. That’s a recipe to wear out a pitchers arm, and the Miami Marlins can ill-afford any more injuries to their pitching staff.

What the future holds

Because of the recent development in Tom Koehler‘s status, Phelps likely wouldn’t be able to stay in the starting rotation for the rest of the season. If we are to believe that Mattingly wouldn’t be willing to use Phelps in a spot start situation, you can rule him out.

That leaves two options: rookie Jarlin Garcia could make his debut in the starting rotation, though that seems unlikely. Or, the Marlins could tax the bullpen to capacity, and go with a communal approach on Sunday.

It’s a strategy that the Marlins have deployed in the past, and the likeliest scenario on Sunday. That means they’ll need quality starts from their pitchers throughout the rest of the series this week. With a day off on Monday before the Oakland A’s series, then another on Thursday following its conclusion, all signs are pointing in that direction.

If each part of the machine can do its job on Sunday, the Miami Marlins are in business. It’ll build confidence, and hopefully right the ship. We’ve already learned how dominant the Fish are on Sundays.

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No decisions have been made yet, and Mattingly is playing it close to the vest. Sandwiched by days off, a start-by-comittee is the likeliest outcome.