Which five pitchers will begin the 2020 MLB regular season as the Miami Marlins Opening Day rotation?
We all have our own theories, I’m sure, but even the Miami Marlins aren’t sure who the five will be come late-March. There are a few locks, a few likely candidates, a few possibilities, and a few dark horses in the running for the slots. I’ve counted a dozen in-system who would fit the bill.
In 2019, the Miami Marlins started their season with José Ureña (13 starts), Trevor Richards (20 starts), Pablo López (21 starts), Sandy Alcantara (32 starts), and Caleb Smith (28 starts). As the season progressed, they relied on replacements as injury started to take a toll on the status quo. Elieser Hernández and Jordan Yamamoto got the lion’s share of the “replacement” starts, with 15 each. Zac Gallen and Robert Dugger filled in with seven apiece, and Hector Noesi was called on for four turns.
Ureña went down to injury mid-season, and eventually resurfaced as a relief pitcher. After allowing an opposing slashline of .289/.343/.463, some envisioned Ureña as a bit of a sleeper candidate for the coveted closer role. In 11 relief appearances, however, he was torched for an opposing line of .318/.362/.545. His other splits also seem to favor him as a starter. After going 4-7 with a 4.70 ERA as the starter, he was 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in relief. Could Ureña somehow claim the Opening Day Starter role for the third consecutive season? Probably unlikely.
In his second mostly full season as a major league starter, Richards went 3-12 with a 4.50 ERA, 103 K’s in 112 innings, and a 1.384 WHIP. Not all-star material, to be sure, but good enough for a talent-starved franchise like the Miami Marlins. Regardless, they sent him off to the Tampa Bay Rays with Nick Anderson for Jesus Sanchez and Ryne Stanek.
López was 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA and 95 K’s in 111 1/3 innings in total, with a solid 1.240 WHIP. Looks can be deceiving, however, as Lopez followed a pretty solid first half with a lousy final seven starts of the season.
At the time he went on the injured list, López was 5-5 with a 4.23 ERA and an opposing batting average of .234. After his return in mid-August, he posted an 0-3 record with a 7.01 ERA and a .319 opposing batting average. One must wonder just how much of that regression was due to the injury. His average GameScore dropped from 53 (just above average) through mid-June to a mark of 41 after the return.
But you didn’t come here to learn about last season. What’s on tap for 2020?