Notes: Rotation game plan, Lewin, Panik

September 3rd, 2021

NEW YORK -- With Sandy Alcantara starting Thursday night's series finale against the Mets at Citi Field, the Marlins laid out the game plan for their rotation over the final month of the season.

Rookie right-hander , who was scheduled for Wednesday's game that was rained out, will move into the bullpen in a John Curtiss-type role. That means appearing in the middle of a game or with the game on the line early because the starter was chased.

Prior to making 13 starts for the Marlins this season, Thompson had been pitching in relief for Triple-A Jacksonville. He hadn't been in a rotation since 2017 as a member of the Winston-Salem Dash in the White Sox organization. The 27-year-old already is at 77 2/3 innings between the Majors and Minors in 2021, his highest total since pitching 93 1/3 frames for the Dash.

"We want to see what that looks like," manager Don Mattingly said. "With the other guys in the rotation, we already have five, six guys we're going to be pitching with [four] off-days. It'd be a lot of times pitching off of seven days and things like that. We didn't think that was the best. ... Just be careful with how we use [Thompson], on his usage, kind of changing him back into the bullpen."

Miami on Wednesday reinstated lefty from the restricted list as one of its two additions to the expanded roster. The NL Rookie of the Year Award candidate hasn't pitched in a MLB game since July 31, spending time on the family medical emergency, bereavement and restricted lists. Rogers, who threw a bullpen session on Thursday, will be inserted back into the rotation on Saturday -- barring a setback -- per Mattingly.

But 's timeline remains uncertain. Sidelined since the beginning of the second half with a right rotator cuff strain, López was removed from his rehab assignment after one start and sent back to Miami.

When asked whether López could resume rehab starts and appear in a Major League game before the season ends, general manager Kim Ng told a small group of reporters at Citi Field, "If he can."

"That's the thing," Ng said. "This is not based on anybody's schedule. This is just based on what he's capable of doing. At this point, there's no reason to push him. We don't have any unrealistic expectations. We just want for the player to be healthy."

That would leave the Marlins with a rotation of Alcantara, Jesús Luzardo, Rogers, Elieser Hernandez and top 100 prospect Edward Cabrera to close out the season.

What's the deal with Díaz?
The Marlins recalled as the 27th man for Tuesday's second game of a doubleheader, then returned him to Triple-A Jacksonville on Wednesday. With Jesús Aguilar holding down first base, the organization would like Díaz to continue receiving everyday at-bats rather than ride the bench. While rookies Bryan De La Cruz and Jesús Sánchez are getting extended looks in the Majors, Díaz doesn't have that luxury.

Including Thursday night's matchup against the Durham Bulls, the Jumbo Shrimp have 27 games left on the schedule. The regular season ends on Oct. 3 -- the same day the Marlins close out the 2021 slate with the Phillies at loanDepot park.

"I think that's always something that we're going to have to balance," Ng said. "I hope to see him later this month, and obviously, Sept. 1 we just felt like when you take the number of games that are left, it all adds up to almost 100 at-bats. Again, we're trying to do the best thing for the player. We will probably get to a point here where we feel that we can get him back."

Miami's No. 11 prospect also has started twice in left field. Is this a way to find him opportunities in the big leagues?

"I think the more versatility any player can have, the better off he's going to be in his career, and the better off we will be as a team," Ng said. "We talked about this a little bit with [Jorge] Alfaro. There's not necessarily any number of at-bats or number of games that we're going to put him out in the outfield. I think it was just, let's see. Hopefully we'll see him later this month."

No need to Panik
The Marlins used their other extra roster spot to reinstate veteran infielder , who had been on the injured list since Aug. 13 for an undisclosed reason. Mattingly said Panik will be moved around first, second and third base, coming off the bench. Miami acquired the 30-year-old Panik from the Blue Jays in a trade on June 29.

"We've talked with Joe," Mattingly said. "It'll be a limited role for the most part, unless we have some openings, things happen to cause him to be in there on a daily basis."