Have the Miami Marlins finally found stability in the closer’s role with Jose Urena moving to the bullpen?
Why didn’t the team consider this move prior to the beginning of the season or why hasn’t the front office considered moving a starter into the role to help with the overabundance of pitching the team has on the Major League and minor league levels.
Urena returned to the team Sept. 1 to a new role that suits his demeanor and his aggressiveness on the mound. It could prove that his herniated disc was the best thing to happen to him and the team as they moved him to the back end of the bullpen where he has a chance to shine.
This may not be a permanent move by the Marlins, as the reliever-turned-starter-turned reliever could still find himself as part of trade rumors this offseason, but in the final month of 2019, Miami has to feel better about its closer situation after the trade that sent Sergio Romo to Minnesota.
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"“In Tuesday night’s victory over the Pirates at PNC Park, Marlins right-hander Jose Urena did something he hadn’t done in a very long time,” writes Alan Saunders of MLB.com.“Urena pitched a scoreless 10th inning to earn his first save of the season, and his first since April 27, 2016.”"
Granted, Urena was the pitcher of record in the 6-5 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday night when he gave up a walk-off single to end the game, but there is a belief this was a position made for Urena to excel at. And given the fact he was the team’s best pitcher in 2017 with a 14-8 record and then was the team’s best arm despite a 9-12 record last season, it stands to reason he is the Marlins best option in this situation.
The 27-year-old makes $3.2 million this season and is eligible for arbitration for the second time this offseason. Having a grasp on this new situation in Miami will help his case. All he needs to do over the next few weeks is come out and pitch with control and hold onto leads the Marlins give him.
Those may be few and far between.
"“He’s been in the bullpen before,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “I think the main thing that he knows is that he’s in a role that’s going to be an up-and-down type role. He’s going to know when he’s pitching. It’s not like he’s in the middle of the game, could come in in the middle of an inning and has to get up quick.”"
The Marlins would have probably dealt Urena at the MLB Trade Deadline had he been healthy the last two months. There are too many arms to sort through, as the franchise has done a solid job of bringing in talented starters for its future. Deciding who moves to a role as a reliever could become risky business.
Having a veteran assume the role and potentially remain in the same position for next season helps the Marlins in their plans for the pitching staff in 2020. The Marlins issues in the bullpen, especially with the ninth-inning specialist, have been documented for years. Romo was a steadying presence for the team, but he was with the team on a one-year deal and proved to be expendable.
The Marlins received Lewin Diaz in return who could solve the team’s need for power at first base.
Urena told Saunders he welcomes the challenge of his new place with the team and hopes he can come in to help this team win down the stretch.
"“I don’t do anything different, it’s just no more routine. If anything has changed, it’s just the way I take care of myself,” Urena said prior to Wednesday’s game."