Marlins Use of Rookie Pitchers Shows Team’s Plan for Future

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Trevor Richards
PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 08: Trevor Richards /

The Miami Marlins have used rookie starting pitching for nearly half the games played in 2018.

The Miami Marlins front office knew this season would be about building a winner from the ground floor. The use of rookie pitching his year is proof the development process may take another year or two before a winner is built.

The Marlins have played 147 games so far this season. Of those games, 63 have been started by rookie pitchers. It’s a statistic that shouldn’t surprise fans as manager Don Mattingly has played with the rotation like a Rubik’s Cube, looking for the right pattern, the best fit for winning.

While only 57 wins have come to the organization this season, there is a sign of hope with only 15 games remaining in what has been a very long 2018 campaign. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by national writers as the number of times a rookie starter has taken the mound was part of a story done by’s Matthew Leach, “NL East storylines by the numbers.”

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The 63 starts by rookie pitchers will increase with Mattingly giving more young arms a chance to prove what they can do with the 2019 season on the horizon.

"“In a six-month season, there’s never just one cause, just one answer, just one explanation. Success or failure, a great deal goes into it,” Leach wrote."

The rotation that started the 2018 season looks completely different than the one Mattingly uses now with only Jose Urena still a part of the five-man group. It figures to look different next season with decisions to be made about veterans and which rookies or youngsters to keep around.

"“This season was never about the present for the Marlins, and that’s been especially clear on the pitching side,” Leach adds.“They’ve given 63 starts to rookies this year, led by Trevor Richards and the unfortunately injured Caleb Smith.”"

The good news is that rookies like Sandy Alcantara have saved their best pitching for the end of the season. A total of eight rookie pitchers have started at least one game. Hopefully, that number will be reduced next year.

The same cannot be said for Mattingly’s lineup as he has used more veterans on a daily basis.

"“Miami has gone with experience a bit more on the offensive side, though rookie Brian Anderson has had a nice year. But this is a rebuilding project, and the goal is the long term,” Leach wrote."

The great unknown is how the Marlins organization will handle a mixture of veterans and more potential rookies next season.

Will Smith, Alcantara, and Richards headline a rotation that will also include Urena and Pablo Lopez?

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Does this organization have too many arms to work with? If so, it’s a pretty good problem for the Marlins and Mattingly to have next season.