Marlins Spring Training: Finding the Fifth Starter

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 08: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins talks with pitcher Elieser Hernandez #57 during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on August 8, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 08: Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Miami Marlins talks with pitcher Elieser Hernandez #57 during the game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on August 8, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Finding the fifth starter in the rotation should be the main priority of the Miami Marlins coaching staff heading into Spring Training.

It’s a guarantee the Miami Marlins have four starters already in line for the team’s rotation in 2020. Finding the fifth arm to complete the quintet is a budding question that must be answered in Spring Training.

"“Starting pitching is arguably the strength of the organization. The Marlins have the building blocks for a strong rotation, which is projected to be headlined by Sandy Alcantara, an All-Star in 2019,” writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.“The 24-year-old logged 197 1/3 innings last year and tossed two complete games. Caleb Smith, the lone lefty projected for the rotation, was a standout in the first two months last year but dealt with left hip inflammation that cost him a month. When healthy, Smith has swing-and-miss stuff.”"

If the first two pitchers are locks to make the rotation, the second two are pretty close as well. Pablo Lopez and Jordan Yamamoto flashed their dominance at different parts of the season but also dealt with injuries.

Both figure to be in the thick of the competition. Who grabs the third spot should be a tight race in February and March.

With pitching being such a strong part of the Marlins makeup from the top of the Majors to the bottom of the farm system, there are plenty of arms that can impact this organization over the next five seasons. That’s a great thing for Miami considering how bad the feeder system has been in the past.

More from Marlins News

"“Pablo Lopez has middle-of-the-rotation potential but has been sidetracked by a right shoulder issue in each of his first two seasons,” Frisaro points out. “The other two spots are up for grabs. Jordan Yamamoto, Elieser Hernandez, and Robert Dugger are the most big-league tested.”"

It just so happens that Frisaro has Hernandez as the fifth starter, but I believe the coaching staff will bring him back to the bullpen where he can serve as a long reliever while manager Don Mattingly continues to tinker with how he wants to set his relief staff up and decide on who will be the team’s closer in 2020.

And just when it should settle down a bit, the Marlins have plenty of arms on the farm to choose from, some who could challenge for the rotation in camp or after the season starts.

"“The real exciting news for Miami fans is that prospects Sixto Sanchez and Edward Cabrera — both throw 100 mph — are expected to reach Miami at some point in 2020. They might have to wait their turn, as prospect Nick Neidert could get that call first,” Frisaro writes."

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