The Miami Marlins revolving starting rotation

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

The Miami Marlins have lacked stability in the starting rotation. Despite a string of strong outings, the unit has been riddled with injuries and poor performance.

The 2017 season is staring to be more kind to the Miami Marlins. They just wrapped up a home stand where they went 8-2 and thrust themselves back on the periphery of a wild-card berth. They continue to be plagued by same questions they faced this offseason, though.

The starting rotation has been a revolving door in 2017. A combination of ineffectiveness and injury has forced Miami to take the “next man up” approach. Only 55 games into the season at this point and the Marlins have already had 10 different pitchers make a start for them.

Edinson Volquez, Tom Koehler, Dan Straily, Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen, Jose Urena, Vance Worley, Justin Nicolino, Jeff Locke, and Odrisamer Despaigne. 10.

Currently, they have three starters on the disabled list.

Tom Koehler’s status remains up in the air. He is schedule to make his first rehab start in A ball on Thursday, though the team is rumored to be looking to move him. It doesn’t make a lot of baseball sense to trade him now, but speculation is rampant. It is unclear if/when he would rejoin the team.

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Wei-Yin Chen is the biggest disappointment of all the Miami Marlins projected starters. The Taiwanese lefty appears to be suffering from a vexing injury in his pitching elbow. The team is unsure when he will return. Given his large salary and anticipated role in the rotation, the $80 million dollar man has under-delivered.

Then there is Justin Nicolino. Nicolino is 25 years old, and the organization has attempted to establish him in the big leagues the last three seasons. This year, he was three innings into his third start before injuring his finger trying to bunt.

Worley not the answer

Nicolino appeared to be on his way to his best start of the season. After throwing three innings, Nicolino was hadn’t allowed a base runner. His pace was good, his fastball was sitting near the top of his range in the 90’s, and he was only at 40 pitches.

His injury isn’t believed to be serious, but it is unclear if he will be able to make his next start. He is currently on the 10-day DL with what is being called a “blood blister”. After missing his scheduled start on Sunday, veteran right-hander Vance Worley made the start.

Unfortunately for Worley, that has been something of a trend. The righty appears to tire after having thrown several innings. Prior to Nicolino’s injury, Worley was slated to make the transition back into the bullpen. This is where he is likely to have to most success. He would serve well as an innings eater, or as a single-inning, max effort type pitcher.

Asking Worley to give you five innings and keep you in the game has been too much to ask for in 2017.

After starting the season in AAA, injuries led to his being recalled to the Major Leagues. In his three starts, Worley has managed to throw five innings only once. His start on Sunday was the most abbreviated yet. He lasted only 3.2 innings, and allowed five earned runs. Were it not for hot hitting by the Marlins lineup, and a strong group effort from the bullpen, Miami doesn’t win that game.

Worley hasn’t managed to keep Miami close enough to win games in his starts. That inevitably leads to having another open spot in the rotation if Nicolino isn’t healthy in time.

Nearly tapped out

The team is nearly entirely tapped out when it comes to available arms. That isn’t taking into account quality arms that can throw six competitive innings.

This is why the Marlins aren’t likely to trade Tom Koehler, are desperate to get Chen back, and are praying Nicolino’s blood un-blisters. Beyond Worley, the best option is a start by committee. The bullpen is finally starting to show the kind of dominance the team hoped for all year. A lot of that has to do with the rest they’ve been getting lately. Manager Don Mattingly won’t want to jeopardize that.

In the immediacy, the answer is to hope that Nicolino is better in time. If the Fish can prove they are a competitive team, serious contenders for the wild card, the front office might make a move for an arm at the deadline.

Next: Miami Marlins update 6/5

The Marlins rotation appears to be stabilizing. However the final spot in the rotation is in as much flux as ever. As players return from injury, stasis might be returned to the stable. But for now, the door continues to revolve.