Six making pitch to stay in Marlins' rotation

Rogers, Braxton on point in twin-bill split as Mattingly mulls over pitching plan

September 13th, 2022

MIAMI -- When the dust settles following Monday’s doubleheader split at loanDepot park, the Marlins face quite the conundrum: What will they do with their rotation?

Trevor Rogers set season highs for strikeouts (nine) and innings (6 1/3) in a 3-2 loss in Game 1 against the Rangers, while Braxton Garrett tossed 4 2/3 solid innings in his return from the injured list in a 10-6 win in Game 2. Fueling the nightcap’s victory was a season-high-tying eight-run fifth.

There are six starting pitchers on Miami’s active roster. Each player has a reason to take the mound on a regular basis. So what’s the plan? Manager Don Mattingly said one hadn’t been finalized yet, but the club knew this day would come and was mulling over possibilities.

“Obviously our guys are healthy right now, which is a good thing, and throwing the ball OK for the most part,” Mattingly said. “We're pretty consistent with our rotation. Have some hiccups here and there, but in general, it's been pretty good. We're going to discuss it and try to figure out what is best for everyone, and that's our biggest thing: You're trying to build certain things. 

“We've got a lot of guys that don't have a lot of innings. Jesús [Luzardo] has lost a bunch of innings this year. Edward [Cabrera] started late, he doesn't have many innings. Brax doesn't have a whole lot of innings. Pablo [López] we want to keep building to finish the season. All of the things that we're doing, that's where the decision comes. What's best for all these guys moving forward?”

Below is a breakdown of the six starters, the latter four of whom have missed time with injuries:

RHP Sandy Alcantara
Age: 27
2022 MLB stats: 2.43 ERA, 196 2/3 innings
What he’s pitching for: National League Cy Young

RHP Pablo López
Age: 26
2022 MLB stats: 4.04 ERA, 153 2/3 innings
What he’s pitching for: A full season with a clean bill of health

RHP Edward Cabrera
Age: 24
2022 MLB stats: 2.63 ERA, 54 2/3 innings
What he’s pitching for: Developing into frontline potential

LHP Jesús Luzardo
Age: 24
2022 MLB stats: 3.81 ERA, 75 2/3 innings
What he’s pitching for: Live up to his former top prospect status

LHP Trevor Rogers
Age: 24
2022 MLB stats: 5.35 ERA, 106 innings
What he’s pitching for: To regain his 2021 form

LHP Braxton Garrett
Age: 25
2022 MLB stats: 3.68 ERA, 73 1/3 innings
What he’s pitching for: To stick in the rotation

Rogers was cruising in the matinee until Adolis García’s double and Mark Mathias’ walk with one out in the seventh put multiple runners on base for the first time. Josh Jung followed with an RBI double that center fielder JJ Bleday was unable to make a leaping catch on, chasing Rogers.

Both Mattingly and Rogers called it the southpaw’s best performance in more than a year, showcasing the return of his formidable four-seamer and changeup combination. Improved mechanics and renewed confidence can be credited for the turnaround, and those two elements are interconnected.

Since returning from the injured list, Rogers has a 2.95 ERA in three starts. He has gone at least six innings in all of them. Prior to this stretch, the 2021 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up had a 5.85 ERA and just one quality start in his previous 19 outings.

“I think there's always a little bit of self doubt, but I think that's part of the growing aspect of this game,” Rogers said. “Of course there were times when I was like, 'Man, am I even good enough to play, should I even play anymore?' And then I would just challenge myself. I'm like, 'If you don't want to play anymore, just quit right now.' Of course I'm not going to quit.

“So I think I was having a tough stretch. Baseball's a game, you’ve just got to keep playing it. You make those adjustments when you need to make those adjustments and keep moving forward.”

Garrett compiled a 5.02 ERA through his first 14 career starts, then a 3.00 ERA in his past nine. He was on a pitch limit in his return from a right oblique strain after just a 46-pitch rehab outing for Triple-A Jacksonville.

“Just be confident, be in the zone, trust my stuff, continue to get strike one,” said Garrett, who said his stuff felt better than it had the final 3-4 starts before his IL stint. “Just things like that.”