Jose Urena could become the Marlins closer upon his return

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 02: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins reacts after giving up a run in the first inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on April 02, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 02: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins reacts after giving up a run in the first inning against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on April 02, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Jose Urena, who was the Miami Marlins Opening Day starter, will move to the bullpen once he returns to the team following a back injury.

The Miami Marlins announced that pitcher Jose Urena would have an assignment at AAA New Orleans on Friday before he would return to the major-league team. The starter, who was the Opening Day pitcher for the Marlins for the second year in a row, could be on the move.

No, we are talking about a trade. We are talking about him moving to the bullpen, where he may assume the role as the team’s closer.

Given the abundance of Miami’s starting pitching, it makes sense to move the veteran to the back end of the pitching staff.

Whether this is a permanent move, is not known. But there has been a discussion about this from the moment Urena suffered a  back injury which put him on the 60-day injured list after it was discovered to be more severe than first thought.

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Urena, Pablo Lopez, and Caleb Smith all suffered injuries within two weeks of each other. Smith is back at the top of the rotation. Lopez has been working on a rehab assignment and figures to join the team shortly. Urena’s return would be a welcomed sight for the Marlins front office.

"“Urena (herniated disk) was Miami’s Opening Day starter, but he could find himself in a relief role when he is back,” Joe Frisaro writes. “He’s started a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Jupiter. One reason Urena is likely headed to a relief role is because of the time he’s missed, it’s more difficult to build him up to 90 or 95 pitches.”"

The Marlins are also monitoring Tayron Guerrero’s progress as he has been dealing with a blister on his pitching hand. The hard-throwing youngster could also be in line to become the team’s closer next season for Don Mattingly or whoever is managing the team in 2020.

We can all hope to Donny Baseball is back next season.

Urena got his start with the Marlins as a reliever, and his story is one of the “feel-good “chapters in Marlins history.

In 2017, Urena came to Spring Training out of minor league options. He either had to make the team or fear the possibility of being released and signing with another team. As luck would have it he made the team as a long-reliever and Mattingly summoned him to the rotation because of injuries and poor performance by his starters. From there he posted a 14-7 record and led the team in wins.

He was named the Opening Day starter last year and while the first half of 2018 was less than stellar, he finished strong, compiling a 9-12 record and was one of the hottest starting pitchers in the National League.

This season, Urena is 4-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 13 starts for the Marlins prior to his injury. He could still be part of trade conversations this coming offseason if the organization looks to add another bat to the lineup.

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