Miami Marlins Bullpen: When Will Dylan Lee Arrive?

When the baseball season finally does pick up again, who’s going to man the closer role in Miami?

The Miami Marlins have a few questions to answer once the season finally gets underway in earnest. Which players will start in the outfield? Who is going to fill the back half of the rotation? Is Francisco Cervelli a better option at backstop than Jorge Alfaro? There are a lot of things the headshop has to figure out before taking the field again.

One such question regards the Miami Marlins seventh, eighth, and ninth inning configuration. One could argue that the seventh- and eighth-inning specialists have become as important to a team’s success as the traditional “closer.” The best teams have at least three lockdown short-relief specialists that they can plug into as those three guys.

Dinuba, CA native Dylan Lee joined the Miami Marlins through the MLB Amateur Entry Draft in 2016, going in the 10th round with the 293rd overall pick out of Fresno State. A left-handed relief specialist in his final season with the Bulldogs, Lee put up a 1.191 WHIP in 47 innings that year.

With the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2017, in the South Atlantic League, Lee tried his hand as a starter, making 19 rotational turns. A 4-10 record with a 4.85 ERA suggested that maybe his talents would be better served in shorter doses. He hasn’t started at any level since then, appearing in relief 89 times across Miami’s top three minor league affiliates in the two seasons since.

Miami Marlins

JUPITER, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 19: Dylan Lee #90 of the Miami Marlins poses for a photo during Photo Day at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

In 2018, Lee split his campaign between those three levels. Namely, the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, the Double-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the Southern League, and the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League. You can’t argue his results. In 44 combined games, he was 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA, a 0.968 WHIP, and 63 K’s in 62 frames.

The lion’s share of Lee’s 2019 season was spent back with the Shrimp, where he struck out 32 in 37 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a very respectable 0.929 WHIP along with a 1.91 ERA on his way to 13 saves. He also dropped a 4.71 ERA in the hitter-happy PCL, but still struck out 24 in only 21 innings of work.

During the current, seemingly endless offseason, the Miami Marlins have dropped two lefty relief pitchers that seemed to be earmarked for the bullpen in 2020. Namely, Jarlin Garcia (now part of the San Francisco Giants), and Jose Quijada (since inked-on with the Anaheim Angels). That leaves last-straw candidate Adam Conley and newcomer Stephen Tarpley as the only left-handed options relief options for the Marlins. The writing, as they say, seems to be on the wall. If Conley continues to struggle, the Marlins are going to call up another lefty.

More than a few believe that Alex Vesia is actually part of the next wave, and it’s hard to argue with his output. The 25-year-old Lee, however, is better seasoned, and the next logical choice to join the club. Notably, the baseball-reference “official” 2020 simulation, powered by the powerful OOTP 21 game engine, has both Vesia and Lee making their major league debuts in the first few weeks of the Marlins’ next season, whenever that is.

Well, whenever 2020 actually kicks off, we’ll be here to bring you all the  pertinent developments. Thanks for reading, and stay safe.