What does the 2020 MLB season have in store for Miami Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez? Can he become as dominant on the mound as the front office thinks he can?
Pablo Lopez might be one of the nicest guys you will meet in all of baseball, let alone the Miami Marlins organization. The starting pitcher has looked good in his few outings during Spring Training, which has the coaching staff smiling as well.
The past two seasons have been a mixed bag, but the 2020 campaign is the one Miami Marlins fans hope the right-hander will prove to the organization he can be a third “ace” on this pitching staff this year.
The numbers for Lopez the past two seasons aren’t terrible, 7-12 with a 4.76 ERA, but they could be better. If he can find a rhythm again in games that count and can continue to add more velocity to his array of pitches, the Marlins will have a third starter who could become a missing piece to the rotation’s puzzle.
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Here are three predictions for Lopez this season.
A Healthy Season
The only thing holding Lopez back is his health. He can be as dominant as any pitcher on the Marlins staff, but he must be able to stay on the roster to make that happen.
Two seasons ago in Jacksonville, I had the privilege of seeing him pitch for the Jumbo Shrimp. He was as close to an ace as anybody I have seen come through the Marlins AA affiliate. And the way he controlled Southern League hitters was a thing of beauty.
When he made prior to the 2018 All-Star game, he was just as dominant. Issues with his shoulder have held him back.
Since this appears to be a short season, he will get through the year without having any time missed. His presence will be a definite advantage for the Miami Marlins rotation.
Moving On Up
If everything falls into place, “IF”, Lopez could become the top picture in the rotation. While many of us have forecasted Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith as the two arms who will lead this staff, you can’t right Lopez off.
If he is able to throw consistently and with power then he has a chance to be the best arm on the Marlins pitching staff. And it’s not far off to think that if there are enough games on the schedule that he could win double-digit games.
Lopez came to camp last year in better shape, where he was able to add power to his pitches. It could be a matter of refocusing his attention in that direction so he could have the same kind of results.
Comeback Player of the Year
There are many Marlins players who could fill this role. There have been many injuries and inconsistent performances over the past couple of years.
Add Lopez to that list. I think 2020 provides him enough of a sample size to prove just how good he can be. And while Smith had issues last year after a hip injury and there are times when Alcantara has not been the most consistent player on the mound, there is a chance the 24-year-old will leapfrog them.
I really believe Lopez is a hidden gem that we don’t discuss enough when discussing the Marlins pitching staff. For a player who was part of a deal in 2017 then sent David Phelps to Seattle, this may be one of those under the radar trades that will pay off for the Marlins over the next five years or more.