Did the recent events centered around Jose Urena and his six-game suspension change how the Miami Marlins approach him this offseason?
The most recent outing by Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena was his best performance this season. How does that display, given his last outing which led to a six-game suspension, affect how the team approaches him this offseason when he is arbitration eligible?
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tackled that very question when he opened his “Inbox” column this week, fielding questions about Urena, who is headed to arbitration and could seek more than the team is willing to pay him for the 2019 season and beyond.
Is there a slippery slope here as the Marlins begin the process of expanding their 25-man roster and make decisions with the 2019 season in mind? Frisaro gives us an interesting take on a subject bound to be a varied topic this winter.
"“Urena gained widespread attention for the wrong reasons for hitting Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch on Wednesday night, resulting in a six-game suspension, which he is appealing,” Frisaro points out. “As unfortunate as the incident and the backlash were, the Marlins haven’t lost sight of the 26-year-old’s vast talent. We saw it on Sunday in his first career complete game against Washington in Miami’s 12-1 win.”"
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Urena’s rise to the rotation is well-documented from last season. A Spring Training that was literally “make or break” for the pitcher, to earning a spot in the bullpen, to becoming a starter and leading the team with 14 wins. It’s a made-for-television movie script, however, the ending has not been as happy as the Marlins would like it to be this season.
Urena has been erratic and leads the leading in hit batters. From a statistical perspective, the numbers are deceiving. Yes, he has a 4-12 record. No, his pitching is not as bad as the record indicates.
"“To me, Urena has pitched better than his numbers would indicate this year, but he still hasn’t consistently elevated his game as much as he could,” Frisaro added."
The Marlins have not been kind with run production with Urena on the mound this season. Maybe the 12-run output is an aberration at best. He has always been considered a “wild” pitcher, but the last two seasons have been more magnified. For everything said, he still may be considered the “ace” of the rotation.
In other words, Miami does not have a true No. 1 starter – yet.
Urena has a two-seam fastball that has plenty of speed and plenty of movement. That’s the pitch that got him in trouble with hitting Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna. He needs to learn control and consistency. He could also stand to develop another pitch in his arsenal. That would go a long way toward winning his case in arbitration should he want an outstanding amount of cash from the team.
Miami must also make a decision on what the organization plans to do with its young arms. Will Urena be part of the future of this franchise in three seasons? Will he remain in the rotation or sent back to the bullpen?
Once the front office determines how it will set its rotation for the future, it can then be determined if Urena is a long-range solution or is he just a stop-gap until these pitching prospects develop into something special.