This is Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez’s year to remain healthy and win

Can Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez overcome two trips to the Injured List to become a dominant third starter in the team’s rotation this season?

The one thing the Miami Marlins want from Pablo Lopez more than wins and a dominant performance on the mound is a solid year of health. That cannot be said over the past two seasons as shoulder issues have placed him on the injured list.

This year has to be different. With the third spot in the rotation his for the taking and other hungry youngsters waiting in the wings to step into his role and fill out the 3-5 pods in the starting five, Lopez is being asked to show the kind of ability that helped him run through the team’s minor league system in 2018 and make his MLB debut prior to the All-Star game.

As long as he can stay healthy and continue to develop, he has a chance – behind Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith – to become another force in the Marlins future.

“The two times that’s happened, it’s been very frustrating,” Lopez said on Wednesday via Joe Frisaro on MLB.com. “The goal is to stay healthy and try to help the team as much as you can.”

The way the Marlins have looked so far this spring and how the team has come together to win every game they have played so far – it’s a far cry from the way things used to be here in South Florida. The MLB landscape is taking notice of the changes, regardless if they are just Grapefruit League games. A winning streak is still that. Now, it’s six and counting.

Lopez could be a big part of the changes the Marlins are making with their roster. He was thought to be one a potential ace moving to the Majors with Alcantara at the same time. Now, there is concern he has taken a step back in that process because of health concerns.

“I thought Pablo was all right,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I thought he was being aggressive. He had some good, good sliders that he added in there today. He gave up a couple of hits, but he’s still back in the zone.”

Back in the zone is a good thing as Lopez must remain dialed in so he can continue to develop his consistency on the mound. Last season, he looked bigger and stronger and added velocity to his pitches. Hopefully, that will continue in 2020.

In 2017, the Mariners traded Lopez, along with Brayan Hernandez, Brandon Miller, and Lukas Schiraldi to the Marlins for David Phelps. The trade was prior to the sale of the Marlins at the end of the season. It’s a deal that still has the potential to be a game-changer for this organization.

“Pablo has a lot of talent, and a lot of tools to be a good pitcher,” catcher Francisco Cervelli said when asked about his teammate’s ability. “The only thing is, we’ve got to make him believe that he’s got good stuff because it is real.”

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The Marlins hope Lopez believes he can be a force on this roster. And with some consistency and good health, that might happen this season.