As the Miami Marlins make more changes to their 40-man roster, what changes are in store for the starting rotation in 2020?
It would be difficult to look at the coming baseball season and think the Miami Marlins are a team ready to contend for a playoff berth. This being the third year of the rebuild in South Florida, you get the sense there must be a real show of improvement in the win column and how players have developed, but there is a reality to all this that fans in Miami are going to have to deal with once again.
This organization may be getting better, but it’s just not ready, yet.
The front office made the move to promote Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and Nick Neidert to the 40-man roster with the vision of them making their Major League debuts at some point this coming season. There is no rush to push these young arms to the starting rotation, but the coaching staff will have plenty of opportunities to see them perform in Spring Training to see what the timetable is on their arrival.
Unless the Marlins make a move this offseason to bring in a veteran arm for the fifth spot in the rotation, you can pencil in four starters – Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and Jordan Yamamoto. There will be some discussion about Robert Dugger and Elieser Hernandez as possible starters. Dugger may need more time in the minors to develop. Hernandez is a candidate to become the team’s long reliever, a role he had during different parts of last season.
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Neidert is the most “Major League” ready. After a knee injury sidelined him last season in Triple-A, he came back in the final months of the season to show he can still be a dominant pitcher on the mound. He backed that up with his showing in the Arizona Fall League. My theory is he wins the fifth starter spot in camp.
Cabrera may have been the biggest surprise of the Marlins minor league system last season. He developed into a top-flight starter at Jupiter and then showed how he could control Southern League hitters at Jacksonville. He should begin the season at Wichita, the team’s new Triple-A affiliate. He should be on the roster after the All-Star break.
Sanchez is the one to watch. The front office will take their time with him, monitor his progress and bring him along slowly. The former Philadelphia Phillies prospect has a chance to be a Pedro Martinez-like ace. It’s worth the time and care the organization takes in making sure he is ready.
The discussion of a veteran arm is not off the table as far as I am concerned. There are names out there who fit the Marlins need for a fifth starter without spending a lot of money. As has been written before, someone like Gio Gonzalez or Felix Hernandez makes plenty of sense at the right price.
The team should spend money this offseason in brining a first baseman and outfielder to the lineup. I don’t think the front office will overpay for a veteran who would overshadow the progress the young arms have made in the organization this past season.