Miami Marlins: An improved Jose Urena in 2020

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinalsat Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. Major League Baseball is suspending Spring Training and delaying the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch in the first inning during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinalsat Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. Major League Baseball is suspending Spring Training and delaying the start of the regular season by at least two weeks due to the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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What does the 2020 MLB season have in store for Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Urena?

With the changes made to the Major League Baseball season, the Miami Marlins are learning to make adjustments in almost all facets of their preparation.

That includes the pitching staff and how manager Don Mattingly is going to use his starting rotation and bullpen over the next two months. There are 11 days left until everything counts, which means the work the players are putting in at the plate and the mound will be the deciding factor in how the skipper chooses his Opening Day roster.

For the pitchers still in camp in Miami, four of the five spots in the rotation appear to be decided. Mattingly will have a chance to determine how many arms he will carry from the 30 men in the clubhouse. With a shorter season, does he rely on veteran arms over youngsters still developing? Will he make concessions later in the season to maximize the most out of a possible playoff run?

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The decisions he makes over the course of 60 games will also impact how the Miami Marlins prepare for the 2021 season as well.

One pitcher who continues to get a long look and plenty of praise from Mattingly is Jose Urena, who may have moved ahead of Sandy Alcantara as the odds-on favorite to pitch the season opener at Philadelphia. Should that happen, it would be the third-straight season Urena was extended the honor.

Urena was a topic of conversation for Mattingly right before the team disbanded because of the threat if the Coronavirus. He returned to camp with his manager still singing his praises. Now, Miami Marlins fans will see if the veteran becomes the glue that holds a developing rotation together, either as the ace of the staff or the middleman connecting four young arms in need of some more development.

"“The Marlins have seen plenty from Urena over the past few years. He was a workhorse for them since ”moving to the starting rotation midway through the 2016 season and was the Opening Day starter in both 2018 and 2019,” Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald wrote.“He started 28 games in 2017, 31 in 2018, and made his first 13 scheduled trips to the mound in 2019 before a herniated disc in his lower back sent him to the injured list on June 12. He stayed on the IL for more than two months and finished the season as a reliever.”"

The trip to the bullpen is something the Marlins front office might want to forget as Urena is more efficient in a starting role. And based on what he did prior to the work stoppage, the resume this spring has been quite impressive.

"“Urena’s line in that final spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals: 5 innings pitched, one hit allowed, three strikeouts and one walk,” McPherson adds.“Urena’s combined line in four spring training starts: 14 innings pitched, two earned runs allowed on 13 hits, eight strikeouts, and one walk.”"

In a shorter season, those numbers will help your team get close to or earn a playoff berth. The Miami Marlins hope they have that kind of chance this coming season.

Urena will be counted on to continue his progression as well. Sidelined with a herniated disc in his back for the majority of last season, he returned to camp in February ready to battle to be part of the rotation and showed he could continue to pitch from stretch while in camp, and keep throwing with power and velocity.

Urena will continue to be a work in progress, potentially through this season. As long as that progress means solid starts and victories, the Marlins will take what they can get, which also hopefully means a trip to the postseason as well.

Next. Miami Marlins: 3 overlooked players for the 2020 season. dark

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