The best thing the Miami Marlins could do this coming season is to have too many arms fighting to make the starting rotation. Could it also become a problem in decided which arms are part of the Opening Series in 2019?
The only sure thing Miami Marlins fans can count on regarding the team’s starting rotation is Jose Urena should once again walk to the mound as the Opening Day pitcher. After that, it’s a crapshoot over what happens and how the remaining four spots are defined.
Miami has a “good” problem in that there are plenty of arms to choose from. Determining which ones will put this franchise on a winning track is up in the air. Urena was the team’s best pitcher last season after the second half of 2018 that was as dominant as any arm in the National League.
"“With only a few of their starting pitchers touting much Major League experience, the Marlins are in the market for rotation depth,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes. “Miami’s front office aims to protect itself from having to rush prospects, so the organization is exploring modestly-priced free agents as well as trade possibilities.”"
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I am holding out hope someone like Matt Harvey considers moving to the warmth of South Florida and offers his services to the youthful franchise. There are no guarantees outside Urena any of the plans for a starting five work throughout the season. The Marlins pitching staff was more like a revolving door with many rookies or young talent being thrust into action sooner rather than later.
Jeremy Hellickson could also help this staff and has been linked to Miami in years past before the MLB trade deadline. The Marlins also seek a closer and will look at options during the Hot Stove season. A possibility is acquiring one as part of a deal involving J.T. Realmuto.
If Urena is first, who comes next? The front office is counting on pitchers to return from injuries to take their place amongst the masses. In a perfect scenario, Dan Straily does not get traded and returns from an oblique injury to assume the role of innings-eater and steadying influence on a young staff.
"As Frisaro points out, “Injuries limited him [Straily] to 23 starts and 122 1/3 innings of work.”"
Caleb Smith was a pleasant surprise before an injury sidelined him for the season. How does he fit in the rotation, but more important than that, is he going to be ready for the first week of the season. Smith, who was acquired from the New York Yankees last offseason – in that “other trade” with the AL team – was 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA.
If Pablo Lopez comes back from shoulder soreness and shows the same kind of promise as he did in the second half of 2018, he could be the team’s No. 3 starter. When he showed discomfort, the team shut him down at the end of the season and placed him on the 60-day disabled list.
Lopez’s ascension through the minors was swift, unlike Sandy Alcantara, who spent two stints at Triple-A New Orleans and dealt with an infection in his armpit.
Alcantara is a flame-thrower who has control issues but is still considered a No. 1 starter at some point in his career.
Wei-Yin Chen figures in the mix as well. Trevor Richards was a warrior on the mound and grew into his starter’s role as the season progressed. I am curious to see how the Marlins use him, possibly as the fourth pitcher in the rotation.