Miami Marlins pitching to open season appears to be set. Here’s what you need to know
The Miami Marlins’ group of 13 pitchers for the Opening Day roster appears to be set.
The Marlins on Saturday reassigned right-handed pitcher Bryan Hoeing and left-handed pitcher Daniel Castano to minor-league camp, leaving just 13 healthy pitchers left in big-league camp heading into the final days.
The group, in alphabetical order by last name: Sandy Alcantara, Matt Barnes, Huascar Brazoban, Edward Cabrera, JT Chargois, Johnny Cueto, Dylan Floro, Braxton Garrett, Jesus Luzardo, Andrew Nardi, A.J. Puk, Trevor Rogers and Tanner Scott.
So how will the group work? Here’s a breakdown.
Manager Skip Schumaker on Saturday said the Marlins will go with a five-man rotation to start the season. The team early in camp had discussions about a six-man rotation but that plan did not formulate.
Outside of Alcantara starting Opening Day against the New York Mets on Thursday, Schumaker hasn’t announced his rotation order or which pitchers will join Alcantara in the group, but the other four pitchers appear to be clear.
The likely group: righties Cueto and Cabrera, lefties Luzardo and Rogers. Cueto is a 15-year veteran and Schumaker has raved about Cabrera, Luzardo and Rogers as the youngsters take the next steps of their careers.
What would that mean for the odd-man out in the starting rotation?
If that situation holds true, then Garrett would be the odd-man out in the starting rotation.
Schumaker said Garrett, or whichever pitcher doesn’t start in the rotation, would be used in a “long-man, swing, spot-start type of role.”
“Very rarely do you use five [starting pitchers] the whole [season],” Schumaker said. “I think especially now, we have some young pitchers that haven’t thrown 200 innings or 150 innings [in a season] for that matter. Just trying to make sure that they’re healthy. We’re doing it smart. That’s why whoever that guy is is going to have a spot start here and there if he hasn’t been used in a long time to make sure we’re keeping up with everybody health wise and making sure they’re going the whole season.”
As for the rest of the bullpen?
Outside of the long-reliever/spot starter/swingman, Miami will have seven pitchers in the bullpen, three lefties (Puk, Scott and Nardi) and four righties (Barnes, Floro, Chargois, Brazoban).
Nardi and Brazoban, the least experienced of the group, would most likely handle middle-inning and lower-leverage roles, while the other five are all candidates for high-leverage and possibly closer spots.
Schumaker has specifically mentioned Puk, acquired this offseason from the Oakland Athletics for outfielder JJ Bleday, turning into the “back-end reliever that we know he’s going to be [and] taking that next step in his career,” which could point to the 6-7 lefty getting the first crack at closing opportunities. Barnes, Floro and Scott all have experience in that role as well, with each logging at least 20 saves over the course of the past two seasons.
What’s the latest on injured pitchers?
Two fixtures in Miami’s bullpen last season are currently sidelined.
Right-handed pitcher Tommy Nance, who was primarily used as a long reliever, has been dealing with a right shoulder injury since the start of camp.
Left-handed pitcher Steven Okert is dealing with soreness in his left adductor and hasn’t pitched since Monday. Okert on Friday said he is currently not pitching off the mound and is uncertain what his immediate next steps are outside of treatment.
“Bad timing obviously,” Okert said. “There’s never a good time to get hurt, but [especially] right at the end of camp. Just got to get healthy and come back so I can help the team as best I can.”
Schumaker added: “The plan is to get him healthy. He felt really good [Friday], which is a good sign ... but you don’t want to push things too hard where he misses a month. I think you just kind of take it day by day right now and our trainers are doing the best they can to get him ready.”
Right-handed pitchers Anthony Bender and Max Meyer are slated to miss the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
And Nic Enright, Miami’s Rule 5 Draft selection in December, has only thrown bullpen sessions as he gets back into his routine following his first round of treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He has another round of treatment scheduled for July.