The Marlins face tough decisions about the future of their rotation

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins wearing the K for cancer shirt during warms ups before the game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on September 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 18: Sandy Alcantara #22 of the Miami Marlins wearing the K for cancer shirt during warms ups before the game against the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park on September 18, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Miami Marlins have some tough choices to make about which pitchers will stay in the rotation, which move to the bullpen and which players may be traded.

Which poker hand will the Miami Marlins play as the team begins the second half of the 2019 season? Will it be the same road they have traveled so far? The one where they continue to use chess pieces in their minor league system to replace starters in the rotation? Or will it the one where they take some of those prospects and use them to find more bats for the middle of the batting order?

So far the moves the Marlins have made over the course of the last 19 months have shown the team is headed in the right direction, but the road they are traveling on is long and winding. At some point, the brain trust of Derek Jeter, Michael Hill, and Gary Denbo are going to have to decide if there are too many arms and in turn, which teams would be interested in making deals that still benefit this organization in the future.

"“Miami’s current rotation features three right-handers that opened the season at Triple-A New Orleans, along with All-Star Sandy Alcantara and sophomore big leaguer Trevor Richards,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes."

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"“When everyone is healthy, the Marlins will have some tough decisions to make regarding the rotation, the strength of their team and the organization overall. Thus far, they’ve used eight starters and have not experienced any significant drop-off in production.”"

Caleb Smith got to 83 pitches on Sunday in Jacksonville while on the mend for a hip injury. Pablo Lopez is just now throwing a baseball for a shoulder injury that required rest. Jose Urena is dealing with a herniated disc in his back. That’s 60 percent of the original starting rotation off the bump. Their replacements, Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez, and Zac Gallen, have shown they can handle being on the mound in the Big Leagues.

Despite the injuries, which are never a good thing, the Marlins are weathering this storm fairly well. The team is 32-50 this season and 22-19 in their last 41 games. There has already been some talk amongst Hill and Jeter (with manager Don Mattingly’s input) how the team would like to move more chess pieces around once Smith returns to the pitching staff, followed by Lopez.

Urena is on the 60-day I.L. His return won’t come until long after the All-Star break. There is a chance the front office and the coaching staff will mix things up, with more arms in the bullpen. At least one of the three “fill-ins” will remain in the rotation.

The Marlins weren’t in this kind of situation just one year ago.

"“It’s just a credit to the depth we’ve been able to accumulate,” Hill said. “They’re good problems to have, and we’ll work through it when the time comes necessary.”"

Hernandez could move to the bullpen as a long reliever. Yamamoto has had the best starts of the three rookies, so he is the most likely to stay in the rotation. What happens with Gallen is unknown. The Marlins added him to the 40-man roster prior to his call-up late last month.

The bullpen has had its issues at times this season and now has Tayron Guerrero on the 10-day I.L. because of a blister on his finger. There could be some shifting around after the All-Star break that could mean a starter takes a role in the pen out of necessity.

Another way the team could move is to make deals to add offensive pieces to their lineup.

"“It will be an interesting Deadline,” Hill said. “It’s already started. You talk to your peers every day about their needs. And the one thing that we always know this time of year, at the Trade Deadline, there is always a need for starting pitching and bullpen help.”"

The MLB Trade Deadline is July 31. Hill already stated last week the organization would listen to offers and see if there is one that would help this ballclub for the future.

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