Which pitcher will walk out of Spring with the final spot in the Miami Marlins rotation under their belt? The competition has been fierce.
The competition for the Marlins fourth and fifth starters in the rotation continues to heat up in the hot Florida sun.
With each passing day, it seems a new name impresses the coaching staff and front office with their performance, making it more difficult to decide who fills out what the organization hopes to be a more dominant front staff than the one that displayed youthful exuberance at times and a lack of stability at others in the 2019 campaign.
Just watching these young arms take turns mowing down batters makes moves Derek Jeter was criticized for just two seasons ago all seem worth the aggravation and patience.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly and his staff have some pretty difficult decisions to make, which may account for a few sleepless nights in Jupiter, Florida over the next couple of weeks.
“I think you just see how it finishes,” Mattingly said of the fifth-starter candidates, via MLB.com.
“With some guys, you see different things. As it gets to the end, they think they have a chance, and all of a sudden, you see a different guy that’s not the same guy that was pitching early in the spring.”
Mattingly and his staff had a chance to see both Elieser Hernandez and Jordan Yamamoto throw on Monday. Each is competing for the final spot in the rotation. The fourth spot make have been swallowed up by Robert Dugger, who has done everything the organization has asked of him this Spring and he has delivered in fine fashion.
No one is going to admit this was according to plan because, frankly, the Marlins knew they had three pitchers – Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez – who looked to comprise the first three men in the rotation. After that, the competition began.
Things became a bit more concrete when the team announced roster moves last week. Sixto Sanchez, the team’s top prospect, pitcher Edward Cabrera and Jorge Guzman were all assigned to minor league camp. Each of them figures to be on the Marlins parent roster at some point during the 2020 season. For now, they all wait their turn.
For now, Hernandez and Yamamoto are neck and neck to claim their role. Yamamoto may have a slight edge. Hernandez can work in the rotation and out of the bullpen in long relief if needed.
As Joe Frisaro explained, “Because starters are working deeper in Grapefruit League games, some candidates are getting their work in on back fields in Minor League games.”
That’s how Yamamoto got his pitches in, which impressed Mattingly.
“[Yamamoto] may be the first guy doing it, but there will be other games where we’re going to need to have innings, possibly on back fields,” Mattingly said.
As the games gain more importance toward the end of the Grapefruit League season, the decision of who stays and who goes becomes more difficult. The Marlins can only grow from this kind of competition. Hopefully, it means depth will serve this team well heading into the season and beyond.