Miami Marlins: Deciding on the Opening Day pitcher

The decision who will be the Miami Marlins starting pitcher on Opening Day is still one that manager Don Mattingly must address.

It’s possible Miami Marlins skipper Don Mattingly might have to make a quick decision at the end of training camp before the start of the 2020 season.

Which pitcher will be on the mound for Opening Day?

Before the team began training in Jupiter, Florida in February, it wasn’t as much of a question as it was how soon Mattingly, who is entering his fifth season as the man in charge of this young roster, would make the right call. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Sandy Alcantara would get the ball and the world would continue on in an orderly fashion.

Now, with training camp opening again and Mattingly and his staff see more on the mound, that decision gets a bit tougher.

Caleb Smith is still an option as well. But once again, don’t count out veteran Jose Urena to get the call and the honor.

According to a story on MLB.com, this is a tougher decision than we might think.

“When Spring Training was cancelled in mid-March, Urena was making the case to either be the Opening Day starter or perhaps the No. 2 guy,” Joe Frisaro wrote. “The right-hander was impressive and solidified himself to pitch at the top of the rotation.”

Should this happen, it will be the third straight season Urena takes the bump on Opening Day. And if this is the case, then the rotation deck might be shuffled a bit based on numbers of starters competing for one or two openings.

The Marlins rotation may take another turn when the players begin the 2020 season. Urena, Alcantara, Smith, and Pablo Lopez should make up the first four spots in the rotation. Jordan Yamamoto and Robert Dugger are holdovers from last season. Elieser Hernandez figures to move to the bullpen. Nick Neidert could also be in line to join the staff from the taxi squad.

It’s a good problem to have for the Miami Marlins. Other front offices in MLB are watching and waiting to see what happens in South Florida.

Alcantara was the team’s best pitcher in the second half of the 2020 season. He was the team’s lone All-Star and despite a 6-14 record, he was the most dominant arm on the staff. He should get more run support this season from a revamped lineup.

“Still, my guess is Sandy Alcantara would have been the Opening Day starter a few months ago, and he will enter camp next week again as the front-runner, barring anything unforeseen,” Frisaro said.