It’s Dan Straily time in Miami.
The veteran pitcher who threw seven quality innings, allowing only three earned runs in a 5-2 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday, could be asked to do more than just pitch every fifth day down in South Florida. Is Straily, who was outspoken about veterans wanting out of Miami prior to Spring Training, willing to take on a leadership role in this rotation?
With the recent wins by rookies Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez in their MLB debuts, coupled with the return Jose Urena, who will join the team again after a brief stint on the disabled list, manager Don Mattingly more than ever needs a veteran arm that can balance the youthful exuberance in this rotation.
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As Dan Gartland of Sports Illustrated wrote back in February, Straily was succinct in his assessment of other veterans who wanted out of Miami in the offseason – namely Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. He did not want anyone on the roster who did not buy into the rebuilding process of this franchise.
“I really agreed with what happened,” he said. “I feel like with the pieces they brought in, this might flip around a little quicker than people realize. I’m not saying today, but I’m excited to be here and try to mentor guys coming into the big leagues for the first time.”
Straily’s outspoken nature was just what the organization needed at a time when it looked like there might be a mutiny among other Marlins on the roster and a fan base that thought Derek Jeter was the second coming of former team owner Jeffrey Loria.
Straily now has the task of providing more quality starts over the course of the second half of the 2018 season. Straily, who was second on the team last season with 10 wins (Jose Urena won 14), has a chance to improve on a 3-4 record since coming off the disabled list.
The Marlins need for him to lead by example.
Wei-Yin Chen will get the ball on Monday in the team’s opening game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Chen has looked good at times since coming off the disabled list himself from an elbow injury. At other times, he has looked overmatched and with little run support, he has a 2-6 mark this season with a 6.14 ERA.
If there is a silver lining to all of this change in Miami, it’s that seasoned players like Straily have stepped forward, willing to accept change and a rebuild that might take another few seasons. What Mattingly and his staff needs is a few more quality starts from Straily and his teammates before the All-Star break to build on the last three months of the season.
What appeared to be a doomed situation at times this year has shown signs of life of late with Alcantara and Lopez, who are the future leaders of this rotation. For now, Straily must remain the wizened veteran who can show consistency in an otherwise inconsistent season.
Despite the loss, Straily’s ability to pitch deep into games to give the bullpen a rest make him effective. His durability as an innings eater should also serve as a lesson to these young pitchers. Straily said he would take on the responsibility of helping these arms get acclimated to the Major Leagues. Mattingly and the Marlins may be counting on that more in the second half of 2018.