The Miami Marlins bullpen should be one of the main needs this offseason. Will the front office move or add players to improve pitching in 2020?
It’s safe to assume the Miami Marlins are gonna look at every position this off-season and determine whether or not to make improvements. The bullpen is certainly one that has many needs, with questions pertaining to middle and longer relief and the team’s closer role for 2020.
We could make a strong argument that if not for the bullpen and numerous meltdowns, Sandy Alcantara would have been a better pitcher, record-wise. You could also make the case that once the team dealt Sergio Romo at the trade deadline, the back end of Miami’s bullpen fell apart.
Gaining Lewin Diaz was a big this for this team, but being able to count on Romo for consistency was something positive this past season.
Now the team moves forward, with the potential of re-signing Romo this off-season and spots open for competition once you get past the starting rotation.
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Here are three questions the front office must answer this winter.
What is Jose Urena’s real role with the team? I’m not sure the Marlins know that answer yet. Jose Urena was the team’s opening day starter in 2019, had issues winning games and was failed by the bullpen early on, and then went on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his back and missed the majority of the season.
Upon his return, in September he was given the opportunity to win the team’s closer role and had mixed success. Most of it was negative.
Urena is in a predicament in terms of where he lands on the staff. The Marlins will look long and hard to bring in another closer if they can, or give other arms an opportunity to earn the role. He’s not going to go back to the starting rotation because the team has too many young arms they are developing.
He is also a candidate to be traded this off-season, which may bring back hitting prospects in return or another arm of that could be added to the bullpen. With Urena, it’s more of a wait and see approach, but his time in Miami may have come to an end.
What happens to Adam Conley? Adam Conley may have been the biggest disappointment in the bullpen this season. I don’t think I’m far off by saying that given he was expected to compete for the closer role and wound up as one of the team’s biggest liabilities during different points of the season.
What the team does with Conley this off-season could tip its hand in how it will go about developing the staff. I do believe there is a chance he will be designated for assignment.
And if both he and Urena are not on the 25-man roster, it will mean that two of the most seasoned veterans of the staff will play elsewhere in 2020.
The Marlins must determine which role they would like Conley to fill, and go from there. It is doubtful he will be offered a chance to win the ninth inning specialist role. I but he could still have an important place in the bullpen if he can find consistency this Spring.
In an ideal situation, the left-hander goes back to the set-up role he was successful at in 2018. Once the Marlins used a closure by committee approach in the last month of 2018, Conley was thrust into a situation he did not handle well.
If he can handle long relief or a setup role, I believe it means the Marlins are less likely to find somebody out of the organization to help the bullpen other than Romo.
Is there help on the way?
The Marlins farm system is chocked full of starting pitchers, but their relief efforts may fall a bit short. Finding young arms that are developing on all four levels of their minor-league system to come in and help the bullpen might be lacking.
Elieser Hernandez should become a top reliever next season after Miami used him both as a starter and in the bullpen last year. He may be more effective in shorter outings, which would benefit the Marlins if he served in middle relief.
In terms of arms on the farm, Tommy Eveld is a possibility. Also, I believe Jorge Guzman may be best served as a closer in the future. His plus fastball and his ability to dominate hitters in a short span would be perfect for that role.
Other than that, I’m not sure which direction the Marlins would want to go through their farm system.