Can pitcher Jose Urena start the 2019 season the same way he ended 2018? The ace of the Marlins pitching staff was as dominant as any starter in Major League Baseball.
If Jose Urena’s 2018 season could be summed up as a novel, it would be best described as a “Tale of Two Halves.” The controversial pitcher the first half of 2018 with one three wins to show for his success and a hit batsman in Ronald Acuna that led to a suspension. If there is anything Miami Marlins have learned about their “ace” is 2018 was a lesson in adversity and triumph.
Now, as he is expected to be the team’s Opening Day starter once again, the coaching staff and front office are going to expect more from Urena, with the understanding he will have to be more like his 14-7 season of two years ago.
"“For the second straight year, it promises to be hard-throwing right-hander Jose Urena. The 27-year-old rebounded nicely in 2018,” Frisaro of MLB.com wrote.“Finishing with a 9-12 record and a 3.98 ERA on a team that lost 98 games. Urena made a strong impression in September, going 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA.”"
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Urena’s story has a bit of “feel good” to it as he was almost a forgotten player in 2017, fighting to make the Marlins Major League roster. Out of minor league options, the only way he could remain with Miami is to become a long reliever.
He was on the 25-man roster and started out in the bullpen, but as brought to the rotation by manager Don Mattingly because of injuries.
There he remained and led the team in wins.
After Urena, there are veterans Mattingly will call on to secure the front part of the rotation. After that, it might be a game of trial and error.
"“Behind Urena is veteran right-hander Dan Straily and lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who will be counted on to log innings and keep the team in games,” Frisaro explains.“A couple of rookies in 2018 — Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Richards — also may have the inside edge to secure the fourth and fifth spots.”"
There are others Mattingly and new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyer, Jr will have to choose from. The one thing the Marlins front office did before last season was acquire plenty of pitching prospects for both the rotation and coming out of the ‘pen.
The one thing the Marlins are still trying to figure out other than who the starting five will be is who will nail down the everyday closer’s role, which for now is still up in the air.