Despite the rocky start to the 2019 MLB season, the Miami Marlins young rotation still has a chance to be one of the best over time.
What if I told you (in my best movie voice) that the Miami Marlins could still have one of the best young pitching rotations in Major League Baseball? And what if I told you that despite a rocky start to the 2019 season – one where the team has the worst record in the Majors, there is still a belief the starting five could flourish by the end of the year?
I know those of you reading this must think I am all kinds of crazy or something else we cannot mention here. But in reality, things are just getting started for the quintet of Jose Urena, Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, and Caleb Smith. Greatness isn’t formed overnight. The 1979 Baltimore Orioles took time to develop. The 1995 Atlanta Braves were a work in progress.
The Marlins invested heavily in a young pitching rotation, mortgaging the future by trading top stars to rebuild. The process the organization has asked everyone to trust is still under construction. It still may take another two seasons to see effective results on the Major League level.
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"As Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote, “Still coming together as a unit, Miami’s rotation may have a combined 167 MLB starts between them — 33.4 per man — but the Marlins’ starting pitchers are driven by the common goal to be one of the best starting staffs in the game.“Based on raw talent and potential, the idea is not that far-fetched.”"
Yes! someone believes the same premise that I do. I would rather watch a low-scoring pitcher’s duel over a slugfest any day. These arms could dominate as we have seen in glimpses of moments caught on video. And things aren’t barren in the minor leagues as pitchers may be ready to move to the parent club – see Zac Gallen – but are patiently waiting their turn.
The wait may be long and boring.
The growth of this staff could also help the Marlins in terms of trade equity. The need for a big bat is still everpresent. The belief that sluggers from within could develop is growing a bit faint. Other teams, especially contenders, are noticing the development, taking notes, waiting out their time to make an offer.
Whether Miami bites on a particular deal is still unknown.
"“We come in every day, and we want to be the rotation that works the hardest, and the smartest,” said Pablo Lopez, a 23-year-old right-hander. “I enjoy very much being around the guys. I enjoy coming to the field early so I can be around them. There’s very good energy.”"
Lopez was fast-tracked to the Majors last season with Alcantara and is still developing as a starter. He has added velocity to his pitches and looks more in shape than last season. Smith is a strikeout artist who anchors the rotation from the No. 5 spot.
Alcantara could become the ace of the staff in time. Richards has one of the best changeups in the game today and sometimes is forgotten on the staff.
Then, there is the case for Urena, who can be brilliant one moment and off the radar the next. When he is dialed in, he is sneaky good and could be a top No. 1 pitcher who works on rhythm more than anything. The future is now in Miami.
"“You don’t really have to go into the long-range part of it,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s now. To know that you have that [starting pitching], kind of day in, day out, you’re starting to be able to count on it. You’re starting to see it now.If we’re able to generate runs, we’re in games. It’s not like we’re not in games and we don’t have chances to win.”"
Given the team’s 8-20 start – worst in baseball – it’s hard to justify such comments. But watching them in action tells another story. Statistics don’t always tell the story. If the Marlins are going to get better as an organization, starting pitching will be its calling card.
"“We’re always trying to help each other,” said Smith, 27, the lone left-hander of the group. “We go out to each other’s bullpens, and after the bullpen, we talk about the ‘pen and try to give them little keys to focus in on to make them that much better.”"