Miami Marlins skipper has an idea who he wants to be the team’s Opening Day starter, but he isn’t letting anyone know his plan yet.
Not even his pitching staff as they continue to develop and prepare for the July 24 start date in Philadelphia against the Phillies. It’s a secret Mattingly will keep to himself until the rotation and bullpen are assembled and ready.
My general feeling about the Opening Day starter is simple – if its’ anyone other than Sandy Alcantara, then the front office will need to explain its reasoning to me as if I am a four-year-old. The organization’s best pitcher over the second half of 2019 and the lone All-Star from the MLB roster has earned the right to take the ball the first game of the season.
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Yes, there are other contenders. Yes, something could happen in the next two-plus weeks. But if everything is considered equal, this isn’t that hard of a decision to make.
"“Manager Don Mattingly said Monday that the organization has a pretty good idea who will take the ball in Game 1,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro wrote. “But until that pitcher and the rest of the rotation are informed, the Marlins will not make their decision public.”"
Jose Urena has looked good in his workouts since Spring Training started in February. The same thing can be said for Caleb Smith. What this does is give Mattingly three front-line starters to send out to the mound in a shortened season which benefits this ball club in 2020.
The local media in Miami have their own favorites, as Mattingly discussed after team practice on Monday.
"“You guys have been pretty good guessers at it,” Mattingly said. “But the one thing I’ve always talked with you guys about is we haven’t really announced it. We have nothing to hold back other than making sure that everybody knows and making sure we’ve talked with everybody.“I don’t want them to get sideswiped with a guess out of the blue when they haven’t heard anything from me. I guess we do [know who will start the opener], but I don’t have a name for you today.”"
Despite a 6-14 record last season, thanks to a failure of run support, Alcantara showed he could not only be effective but was dominant at times on the mound. These were the performances the front office hoped for then they acquired Alcantara in a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
Since there is technically an open door where another starter could be named, Alcantara will wait like his teammates for the decision to be announced. In the meantime, there will be more speculation about how Alcantara should get the nod. And if he does not get the honor, the reasons for Mattingly’s decision.