Marlins plan to open season with 5-man rotation

March 25th, 2023

JUPITER, Fla. -- When camp began, the Marlins floated the idea of a six-man rotation. With Spring Training action coming to a close Sunday, manager Skip Schumaker announced the club will open the season with a traditional five-man starting staff.

Left-hander Daniel Castano being reassigned to Minor League camp Saturday morning leaves six starters remaining: ace Sandy Alcantara, right-handers Edward Cabrera and Johnny Cueto as well as southpaws Jesús Luzardo, Trevor Rogers and Braxton Garrett.

The odd man out will go to the bullpen in a hybrid role that includes long relief and occasional spot starts. Will the five-man rotation stick for the entirety of the season?

"It depends on what happens with the rotation," Schumaker said. "Very rarely do you use five men the whole [year] -- I'm not sure in the history of the game, maybe after a certain time period, that that's ever happened or happened of late. I think, especially now, we have some young pitchers that haven't thrown 200 innings -- or 150 innings for that matter. Just trying to make sure that they're healthy.

"We're doing it smart. That's why whoever that [sixth] guy is is going to have the spot start here and there if he hasn't been used in a long time. And to make sure that we're keeping up on everybody's health, we're making sure that they're going the whole season and there's nothing that we're too concerned with health wise to make sure that they're making their starts."

Take Spring Training stats with a grain of salt, but this is how the six have fared in Grapefruit League action following Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium:

13 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 HBP, 4 BB, 15 Ks in four starts

13 2/3 IP, 15 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 15 Ks in four starts

15 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 14 Ks in four starts

18 IP, 15 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 17 Ks in five starts

3 2/3 IP, 11 H, 11 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks in two starts

Braxton Garrett
12 IP, 17 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 5 BB, 12 Ks in four games (two starts)

Alcantara, Luzardo and Cueto each made a start at the World Baseball Classic. Cueto also threw 61 pitches in a Minor League game Friday after having his outing pushed back a couple of days due to general arm soreness.

Cabrera got the nod Saturday, while Luzardo is scheduled for the home game of Sunday's spring-ending split-squad day and Garrett is slated for the away game. When asked whether Garrett was an option for the traditional long-man role out of the bullpen, Schumaker said "barring anything happening, he's definitely in consideration for that role."

Miami also needs to determine the order of its rotation following Opening Day starter Alcantara. One thing we do know is Castano, who allowed just one run in 12 2/3 innings this spring, would be the next man up. The Marlins would have to make space for him on the 40-man roster.

"Castano did everything he was supposed to do to warrant a spot in the rotation or in the bullpen," Schumaker said. "The fact is that we have a lot of really good pitchers right now, and sometimes you have to go down [to the Minors] and get built up in case something happens -- and he's that guy that unfortunately was squeezed out, because we need him to be built up and be in the rotation-type thing if anything happens up here. He's a really good insurance piece -- depth piece -- to have, and we're confident that when he does come up, that he's going to help us right away."