Marlins Manager Mattingly Deals With Roster Expansion
By David Levin
The Miami Marlins and the rest of Major League Baseball deal with the expansion of rosters in the final month of the season.
You know it’s the last month of the Major League Baseball season when teams expand their rosters to make room for injured players and minor league prospects. The Miami Marlins are no different in planning for the future, even if that future is to play more consistent baseball in September.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly knows it is important to keep everyone happy in a dugout that will be a bit more crowded. He talked with MLB.com about how he will plan lineup moves and how to handle an expanded pitching staff as the team uses September as a springboard toward the 2019 season.
It’s a position Mattingly has known before. With a roster of “hopeful” youngsters and veterans looking to finish strong, the Miami Marlins in an ebb and flow that continues to be a focus of national media. How does this team finish? Can Mattingly and his coaching staff corral a bullpen that continues to falter?
"As our own Kevin Kraczkowski wrote, “According to Craig Mish, reliever Nick Wittgren, starters Jeff Brigham and Sandy Alcantara, outfielder Lewis Brinson, and catcher Chad Wallach will join the team in time for today’s game.”"
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There should be others on the short list of players who make their Miami debut this coming week. Some, like Brinson, it’s a chance to pick up where he left off and improve on a .186 batting average. For a player like Alcantara, it’s about finding more consistency on the bump. Brigham has a chance to make a statement.
Then there are those who have not been named yet that will get a call to take a trip down I-95. Someone like Nick Neidert, who is the team’s best pitching prospect not named Alcantara, has a chance to turn some heads – to show he can pitch in a very young rotation next season.
"Per Glenn Sattell, “Timing looks better,” Mattingly said of Brinson, who hit just .186 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in 80 games this season before sustaining the injury. “The reports have been better, and he’s having some success, which makes sense with better timing.”"
If Brinson can come in a prove he can be a power source – something this team lacks – it will help ease the burden of searching for runs late in games.
The expanded roster also gives Mattingly a chance to see other pitchers in the rotation. Dillon Peters could be added. We talked about Neidert. Could Zac Gallen get a long look? Personally, I believe the Marlins have assembled solid pitching prospects, enough that could give this team a rotation that resembles the Atlanta Braves push of the early 1990s.
It’s hard to tell if these arms could match Tom Glavine or John Smoltz, pitching has been the main focus of the change in the organization’s philosophy since Derek Jeter took over as co-owner and CEO.
The goal, as Mattingly explained, is for youngsters to go longer in games, to see batters three times, to learn their hitting styles and make adjustments as they pitch.
"“We’ll probably do that,” he said. “Just continue to give guys extra rest and to be able to see more guys [in the rotation]. Obviously, you want to look at young guys, but also keep in mind that when you’re playing Philly or the Nats, you really want to try to throw your main guys at them.”"
Monte Harrison, the team’s top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will play in the Arizona Fall League. He will not be on the expanded roster.