With the pitchers and catchers having already reported to the Marlins Spring Training facility, does manager Don Mattingly have too many starting pitchers on the roster?
It’s not a bad “problem” to have if you are the Miami Marlins.
As the pitchers and catchers have already begun their workouts down in Jupiter and new faces from old places meet and greet over the past few days, one thing has become clear as the 2019 Major League Baseball season has officially gotten underway.
The Marlins have a solid group of young pitching prospects mixed with three veterans who know the neophytes will make a strong case to push them for a starting spot in the rotation. I have talked about this before. Having too many arms in this case is something this organization can take pride in.
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Through trades and addition, the Marlins have put together a minor league system full of viable options for starting pitching for the foreseeable future. Something that eventually could help them land a solid bat when needed or to use as trade chips to land big-name stars in the future.
It’s not a complaint about how the front office, led by Derek Jeter, Michael Hill and Gary Dembo have done their job. If anything, it is to commend them for analyzing exactly what the organization needed most.
"“How quickly the organization progresses towards being a playoff contender will largely hinge around the rotation depth assembled over the past 18 months,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com."
What is for sure is the staff will be led by their ace, Jose Urena, and followed by Dan Straily and Wei-Yin Chen. Both Urena and Straily could be double-digit winners in 2019. Chen must figure out how to win on the road as he faltered many times last season while showing dominance on the bump at Marlins Park.
After that, it gets a bit crowded with many arms trying to secure two spots in ther rotation and praying they will be called up early if given the chance should someone falter or is injured.
"“That’s how we feel like we are built,” said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill. “When you look at all the trades we’ve made, we’ve been able to layer pitching throughout.”"
Prior to the sale of the Marlins in October of 2017, the pitching on all three levels of the minor league system was lacking. Miami had one of the worst feeder systems in baseball. Now, they are pushing toward the top 10 in all of baseball. And that growth should continue as players develop over the course of this season.
Pablo Lopez and Caleb Smith return from injury, but could be on the outside looking in. Sandy Alcantara and Trevor Richards may be ahead of them in the pecking order. Again, it really depends on what happens in camp.
Then there are others to consider.
"“At Triple-A and knocking on the door to reach the big leagues at some point in 2019 are right-handers Nick Neidert, Zac Gallen and Robert Dugger,” Frisaro added."
Double-A Jacksonville could be a hot bed for pitching as the rotation may be the best it has been in years.
"“The rotation is likely to feature a pair of right-handers who throw 100-plus mph — Jorge Guzman and Sixto Sanchez, the organization’s top prospect, who was acquired from the Phillies in the [J.T.] Realmuto trade,” Frisaro explained."
This is not the only dilemma facing the coaching staff this year, but it’s nice to see the Marlins in this type of situation, knowing the rebuild is still an ongoing process. Help for the pitching staff is on the way. It may take another year or two, but the Marlins have set a course for success on the mound that could be exceptional in a few seasons.