Which brings us to the biggest question thus far: who’s number five? Former rule 5 acquisition Elieser Hernandez has the inside track, after a solid 2019 that saw him issue 85 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. He ranked tied for fifth on the team with 15 starts, and went 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA.
Hernandez is a six-foot-even right-handed native of Ocumare del Tuy, VZ, and can either start or relieve. He’s as likely to begin the year in the bullpen, in the swing-starter role he has so ably filled over the past two seasons for the Marlins.
Dugger made his major league debut last season, going 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA over seven starts. He was best in his second start, when he struck out seven in as many innings on August 29th, in an eventual 4-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds. Dugger surrendered two unearned runs on three hits and a walk.
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Neidert is also a possible wildcard to the proceedings. Named the 2018 Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year after going 12-7 with a 3.24 ERA for the Jumbo Shrimp, he was limited in 2019 by injury, but could challenge with a good spring.
Both Dugger and Neidert arrived in the Marlins organization via the Dee Gordon trade, another deal that is looking better with each passing season.
My money is on Hernandez, but Neidert could surprise. Dugger should begin the year with Wichita. For further developments as the 2020 season begins to take shape, keep your ear to the rail by following Marlin Maniac on Twitter, and thanks for reading.