Jordan Yamamoto flashed onto the scene in 2019 with a sterling start versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Yamamoto tossed seven scoreless innings in his Major League debut. He then followed that performance with seven more. Through his first six starts with the Marlins, Yamamoto was 4-0 with just six earned runs in 34 innings pitched.
The 23-year-old came back to earth over his next seven starts, losing five straight decisions and seeing his ERA balloon to 4.87. Yamamoto finished 2019 strong, though, striking out 10 over six scoreless innings of work in Citi Field versus the Mets. He finished 2019 with a 4-5 record, posting a 4.46 ERA and 1.14 WHIP with 82 strikeouts over 78 2/3 innings pitched.
If he can find his early form during spring training, Yamamoto will be a lock for the starting rotation. He’s likely to get slotted into that No. 4 starter role.
Elieser Hernandez is the other prime candidate for the backend of the rotation. In 2019, Hernandez went 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 85 strikeouts over 82 1/3 innings pitched. The big problem for the 24-year-old Venezuelan righty was the penchant for giving up the long ball. In 2019, Hernandez surrendered 20 home runs. His 2.2 home runs per nine innings was the highest such mark on the team.
Hernandez made 15 starts in 2019 and made six appearances out of the bullpen. Those six appearances didn’t go well, as he posted a 0-1 record with eight earned runs over 7 2/3 innings pitched. Although the numbers as a starter were better, Hernandez will need to prove to Marlins manager Don Mattingly that he’s a long-term starter for this club. If not, he may be slotted into a long reliever role for 2020.