If the Miami Marlins are going to become playoff contenders in the next few years, the team’s success will be based on its pitching staff.
Imagine yourself at the other end of a Jose Guzman fastball. What if you cannot solve a Trevor Richards changeup. How will it look if Pablo Lopez is throwing heat into the eighth inning? Those are legitimate “issues” the Miami Marlins will deal with at some point. The future is bright for this franchise, one that has plenty of pitching prospects to choose from as the organization tries to pry itself out of the National League East cellar.
Pitching was the focal point of Michael Hill’s assessment of the team during Spring Training. The president of baseball operations, who has helped to build a strong nucleus of talent since the Bruce Sherman-Derek Jeter era of this team began officially in October of 2017, sees a bright horizon led by strong arms and great depth.
"“I think the biggest thing that you can look to halfway through the spring is that this team is going to be built on its pitching,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Tuesday morning. “Our starting pitching is going to set the tone for us.”"
It all sounds great. Hill has been a big proponent of the sweeping changes the Marlins front office has made the past 18 months with the idea of building this team brick by brick, base pad by base pad. The moves, which has meant that eight of the top 10 and 20 of the top 30 inor league prospects have been acquired since Jeffrey Loria sold the team, prove Miami is serious about becoming a contender into the next decade.
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Earlier today, I wrote about how the Marlins rotation could be set, minus to veterans – Dan Straily and Wei-Yin Chen. I picked up on a comment Craig Mish made when Hill was interviewed by a local Miami sports radio station, but failed to mention either of the two pitchers. While Chen is more likely to be left out of the rotation by manager Don Mattingly, there is still a possiblity, no matter how slight it is, Straily could still be dealt before the start of the 2019 season.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com still believes Straily is the team’s No. 2 starter behind Jose Urena who will once again pitch on Opening Day.
"“[Dan] Straily is the expected No. 2 starter, and in the mix for the other three spots are Wei-Yin Chen, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Richards, Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith,” he wrote.“Smith is recovering from lat surgery and has been facing batters in simulated games on back fields. The left-hander is healthy and is in the process of getting game-ready.”"
Each pitcher who could be part of the Marlins starting five have a question regarding their play for the upcoming season.
- Can Urena put together two solid halves of baseball?
- Will Straily avoid injuries this season?
- Is Chen on the trading block or will he be released because of a lack of consistency?
- Has Pablo Lopez become a solid No. 4 in the rotation.
- Can Sandy Alcantara remain effective throughout seven innings?
- Will Richards develop a third and fourth pitch to his arsenal?
Making the Marlins a winner was never supposed to be easy. The lack of a power hitter in the middle of the order and the a new backstop in Jorge Alfaro are just of the many changes from last season’s team. The power hitter was an issue in 2018, but it is even more magnified in camp this year.
Hill told the media he and the Marlins want to find the five best pitchers who give this team a chance to be successful on the mound. That also means a well-defined minor league system where there are other pitchers waiting for their chance to prove what they can do on the Major League level.
“You are talking about layers of talent, and starting pitching that will allow us to take our time with guys, first and foremost,” Hill said.