Will the Miami Marlins add a veteran left-handed starter to the rotation before the team heads to Florida to Spring Training?
As of now, Caleb Smith is still rehabbing an injury and may not be ready for the start of the season. It’s an issue that Marlins have dealt with before, but are now facing it with veterans at the front of the rotation (Chen, Dan Straily and Jose Urena) and youth mixed in with Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Richards fighting for two spots.
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Decisions by the front office after the 2018 season have made the ranks of lefty pitchers even smaller, as Joe Frisaro of MLB.com explains.
"“Last month, the Marlins traded southpaw Dillon Peters to the Angels for right-handed reliever Tyler Stevens,” he writes."
Peters was once considered a top-five prospect in the organization but split time between the Majors, where he was in the rotation of the opening series of the season against the Chicago Cubs, and Triple-A New Orleans.
Smith was impressive until his season was finished due to a pectoral injury.
"“Smith is expected to take it slow early in Spring Training, and he may not be completely ready for Opening Day. If he isn’t, and barring any setbacks, Smith could be a second lefty to join the rotation at some point in the first month or two of the season,” Frisaro explains."
The Marlins spent the offseason last year acquiring minor league prospects for their star players in deals that helped to redefine the organization. This season, the emphasis has been on hitter and defense to help with depth up the middle of the diamond.
Miami still needs to find a power-hitting first baseman and potentially a starting backstop.
One thing the Marlins may do is search for more depth in the bullpen with a veteran or two. Adam Conley is a left-handed relief pitcher but does have experience as a starter. Jarlin Garcia was a starter in the minors and converted to a reliever before returning to the minors in the starting rotation.
Miami should start the regular season with Urena as the Opening Day starter, followed by Straily like last season. Where Chen fits in is the biggest question of the starting five. He was a much better pitcher at home than he was on the road.