Miami Marlins Pitching: Who Are the Frontrunners for the Rotation?

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 08: Jeff Brigham #43 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during live batting practice during summer workouts at Marlins Park on July 08, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JULY 08: Jeff Brigham #43 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during live batting practice during summer workouts at Marlins Park on July 08, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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With only 60 games to play in 2020, will the Miami Marlins rely on the tried-and-true?

The Miami Marlins have an enviable problem for the 2020 season. It seems they have too much pitching talent to give all of their arms major league reps. It’s actually more serious this season, in that there is no minor league competition to allow them to hone their craft and prepare for the bigs.

In addition to that, four players on the team have tested positive for Coronavirus, and we’re not sure who those players are. All these predictions hinge on the fact that all of these players are healthy. I’ve divided the probable rotation into four tiers.

The Likeliest Suspects

Sandy Alcantara

Despite a 6-14 record in 2019, Alcantara showed legitimate ace potential. With a National League leading two shutouts, Alcantara struck out 151 in a team-leading 197 1/3 innings. He had a career-best 1.318 WHIP and was selected to his first All Star game. He also led the Marlins pitching staff with 2.8 Wins Above Replacement (brWAR).

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FLORIDA – JULY 10: Pablo Lopez #49 of the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Pablo López

López started 21 times in 2019, going 5-8 with a 5.09 ERA. That’s not great, but López is reliant on top-tier control to keep his walks to a minimum, with only 27 in 111 1/3 innings. López is a prime candidate to take the next step in his development into a solid number three major league starter.

Caleb Smith

Smith started in a team-second 28 contests, striking out 168 in 153 1/3 innings for an elite-level 9.9 K/9. His Achilles heel continues to be the long ball, with an N.L. “leading” 33 surrendered. Smith was 10-11 with a 4.52 ERA.

Miami Marlins
MIAMI, FLORIDA – JULY 10: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

José Ureña

Ureña started 13 times in 2019, later making 11 relief appearances and racking up three saves. In 84 2/3 innings, he posted a 1.476 WHIP and struck out 62. He was 4-10 with a 5.21 ERA.

Jordan Yamamoto

Yamamoto led the starting staff with a 1.144 WHIP by giving up only 54 hits in 78 2/3 innings. He struck out 82, with a 9.4 K/9 within shouting distance of Smith’s figures. He finished 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA.

On the Edge of Consideration

Nick Neidert

It seems like Neidert has been around for a long time already, but he’s still yet to make his major league debut. Injured for a big chunk of the 2019 season, Neidert struck out 154 in 152 2/3 innings for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp the year before, with a 12-7 record and a 3.24 ERA in the Southern League.

Miami Marlins
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 25: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Robert Dugger #64 of the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Robert Dugger

Dugger made his debut already, starting seven games last season and going 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA. That may not seem very good, but it’s a small sample size, and the metrics aren’t that much worse than the five starters already listed.

Elieser Hernandez

Former rule 5 acquisition Hernandez started in 15 of his 21 appearances for the Miami Marlins last season. 3-5 with a 5.03 ERA, Hernandez struck out 85 in 82 1/3 innings. He was also much better as a starter, posting a .231/.308/.484 opposing slash line with a nearly 4:1 K/BB ratio. As a reliever, he posted a 9.39 ERA.

Miami Marlins
CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 07: Sixto Sanchez #45 of the National League Futures Team. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /

Sixto Sanchez

Sanchez may be ready for the big time right now. For the Jumbo Shrimp in 2019, he posted an 8-4 record with a 2.53 ERA over 18 Double-A starts.

Dark Horses

Jeff Brigham

Technically a reliever at the major league level, Brigham did start four times in 2018 for the Miami Marlins.

Edward Cabrera

Cabrera, like Sanchez, may be ready to ride the next wave of Marlins pitching talent sooner rather than later.

Jorge Guzman

Jorge Guzman of the famous 102 MPH fastball has made strides, but probably won’t be ready for major league action this season.

Jordan Holloway

Holloway is about two seasons behind of where his development should be, due to injury, but scouts have lauded his talent. He could be a late bloomer.

Someday Soon, But Probably Not This Year

The trio of first round picks Braxton Garrett (2016), Trevor Rogers (2017), and Max Meyer (2020) could make some waves if they’re released into the majors sooner than expected. Daniel Castano has also shown a lot of growth over his Marlins minor league career, and may appear with the parent club sometime this season.

What do you think? Are there candidates I forgot? We’ve got less than two weeks to make our predictions. Thanks for reading.