Chris O’Grady’s oblique injury hurts his 2018 rotation chances

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Manager Don Mattingly
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 22: Manager Don Mattingly /

There were open auditions taking place for the 2018 Miami Marlins pitching rotation. After suffering an oblique injury, Chris O’Grady’s chances took a hit.

The Miami Marlins are short on rotation arms, no mystery there. Earlier this season, the turnstile rotation finally got to a left-handed pitcher named Chris O’Grady. In his MLB debut, he pitched well enough to justify another chance.

He succeeded again, ostensibly locking up an audition opportunity for the rest of the 2017 season and beyond. Even when he’s struggled on the mound, he gave the impression that he was one of the five best starters in the organization.

After going down with an apparent oblique injury on Monday, his future could be in jeopardy.

It’s one of the uglier aspects of the game. O’Grady pitched his way into the heart of the Miami Marlins fanbase with his underdog-overcoming-obstacles baseball story. After toiling in the Los Angeles Angels minor league system for seven years, they released him prior to this season.

That’s when he got a call from the Miami Marlins. He signed a minor league contract, developed a third pitch, and rode it all the way to Major League Baseball. Since arriving he’s proved he belong here for the rest of the year, but not beyond that.

The Marlins organization continues to march towards an uncertain future. With the sale of the team looming, or perhaps lingering at this point, roster decisions are almost impossible to predict. Grady likely hasn’t done enough to cement himself in the minds of incoming ownership.

That’s why this oblique injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. The Miami Marlins are trotting Vance Worley to the mound every fifth day, they were in no position to demote O’Grady. With the pressure off, he would have had the opportunity to learn, grow, and pitch relatively stress-free innings in preparation for 2018.

Next season, and beyond!

Now that he is out for an undetermined amount of time, it puts a hold on the entire narrative. If O’Grady does return this year, it’s unclear how many starts he’ll have before the season ends. Likely not very many. If he doesn’t return, he become a “Plan-B” again.

Three or four more strong starts, and a strong spring training probably would have been enough for O’Grady to lock up the fifth spot in the rotation next year. I’ve long compared him to a young Mark Redman type, an ideal no. 5 starter.

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Give credit to a guy who has fought for every inch to get to the highest level of baseball. O’Grady won’t roll over and surrender the spot he’s earned nearly eight years in the making. But with a few homegrown products due for September callups, O’Grady wasn’t afforded any ancillary opportunities.

More details regarding his injury should be made available at some point on Tuesday, or Wednesday.