With the 2021 MLB season starting in less than a month, the Marlins have a lot of choices to make. In my next three articles, I will detail my prospective answers to these questions. Here they are:
- Where does Garrett Cooper fit in Miami?
- Who starts at 2nd base between Jazz Chisholm and Isan Diaz?
- Who will be the 5th man in the rotation?
In my third and final article in this series, I will take a look at a pressing question for the Marlins entering the new season. Here are some of the best options on the table for Miami, with some pros and cons to go along with each possibility. Clearly, there are 7 main arms that could potentially find themselves on the Opening Day Rotation: Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Elieser Hernandez, Sixto Sanchez, Trevor Rogers, Nick Neidert, and Gio Gonzalez. There are multiple ways Miami can take this:
4 Expected + Gio
I was very high on the Gio Gonzalez signing when the Marlins went out and got him. After taking more and more time to consider the options at hand, putting Gio Gonzalez in the rotation would effectively stunt the growth of the young arms of Trevor Rogers and Nick Neidert. This option puts Sixto, Sandy, Pablo, and Elieser as the key arms with a lefty veteran in Gonzalez. With two solid young options almost completely ready, the value of Gio Gonzalez doesn’t outweigh getting Rogers and Neidert innings in high leverage situations. I wouldn’t go this route if I’m the Marlins for that reason. Rather I would opt for one of the two options below.
Early 6 Man Rotation
With Sixto Sanchez starting his Spring late and most likely on a pitch limit in 2021, starting him in the minors could guarantee that he is pitching later in the season (which would be beneficial to him whether or not the Marlins are in a pennant race). By allowing both Rogers and Neidert to get innings early, the Marlins can potentially have more data to work with in deciding who stays and who goes. Gio Gonzalez could be a solid veteran presence at the start of the season, especially when the Marlins are still in the hunt. The major con of this option is that Sandy pitches every 7th day, rather than every 6th day. For this reason, this option will most likely be saved as a ‘just in case things go very poorly’ option. If the Marlins falter early, this is their best option to grow for next year.
5 Young Arms
This is the best option for Miami in my opinion. Start Sixto in the minors and have Neidert and Rogers battle out for the 5 spot in the rotation when Sixto is ready to come up. Move the non-starter to the bullpen for long relief in combination with Gio Gonzalez. Both can then be used for spot starts throughout the course of a long season on double-header days which are bound to happen. This makes it so the Marlins have their best young arms out there on any given night, which puts them in the best situation to compete.
I hope that the Marlins opt to take option 3 in games that matter. Once they are out of contention (or if they are), they can switch to option 2 to get Neidert and Rogers even more experience in a Major League environment. With Opening Day just 11 days away, Marlins fans will have all of these answers soon.
This has been a fun series of articles to write, and regardless of what Miami does, I think they are poised to exceed expectations this year one way or another.
Until Opening Day.