As the Miami Marlins starting rotation comes along, it becomes harder to decide who wins the fifth spot on the mound.
The last thing the Miami Marlins need is questions about its starting rotation.
With the team at the midway point of the Grapefruit League can you definitively say there are youngsters who have taken a step forward and left a lasting impression that wasn’t expected? Has anyone taken a dramatic step back since games meant something?
According to analysts, the answer is “No”.
"“The primary candidates and frontrunners remain about the same as expected, but the main priority for the organization is getting as many of them as ready as possible,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes. “Because even though there are at least eight candidates for five spots, the Marlins are anticipating needing everyone at some point during the season.”"
The Marlins figure to have four starters set for the regular season in Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and Jordan Yamamoto. After that, it’s an open competition with several arms showing they could lasso the final spot.
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It’s a problem any manager would love to have. It just so happens it has fallen in Don Mattingly’s lap. With the help of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Jr. the next part of camp is to determine if there is one candidate who stands out amongst the rest.
"“You’re wanting to get everybody going, and then make a decision, knowing that you’re going to need all of them, no matter how it shakes out at the end of spring,” Mattingly said. “You’re still going to need all of them.”"
Part of the bonus of seeing Miami’s pitchers now is they are all healthy – a good sign for the future. Lopez is coming back from a shoulder issue. Smith dealt with a hip issue in the second half of 2019. Yamamoto had a forearm problem. Jose Urena was on the shelf for the better part of the season with a herniated disc.
Urena is an interesting piece to follow since he can be the team’s final starter or fit in the bullpen as a long reliever. The same can be said for Elieser Hernandez.
Mattingly’s job is simple – get them as many innings to show what they can do and have those who are close to the Major League finish line as ready as possible.
"“If you’re in Double-A, you’re [close to being] here,” Mattingly said. “You can be here just as easily, especially, if you’re on the roster.”"
The Marlins used to worry there weren’t enough prospects in their minor league system for depth should veterans go down with and injury. Now, it almost seems like the organization has too many to count – which is not a bad thing at all.
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