MIAMI -- The Marlins' rotation received a jolt on Monday as the team announced Caleb Smith has a Grade 3 left lat strain. An MRI revealed the significant injury, and the 26-year-old left-hander acknowledged he will likely miss the remainder of the season.
Miami placed Smith on the 10-day disabled list and recalled Ben Meyer from Triple-A New Orleans in a corresponding move. The right-hander is an option to pitch in long relief or be a spot starter.
"It's definitely worse than I thought," Smith said. "I thought it was going to be like a pulled muscle or something. I didn't think it was going to be torn off the bone. It's definitely unexpected for me."
Smith is considering surgery, which he said should allow him to be ready for Spring Training.
"I can either have surgery or give it time and let it heal itself," Smith said. "Either way, I think I'm out for the season.
"If I let it heal on its own, so many things could go wrong. I could be healed, or think it's healed and start throwing and feel it again and have to get surgery and prolong it. Or I can go ahead and get surgery and be ready by Spring Training. I haven't really made a decision yet."
Smith, who leads all Major League rookies with 88 strikeouts, has arguably been Miami's most consistent pitcher. The injury occurred during Sunday's 8-5 victory in Colorado, when Smith winced after throwing a pitch in the second inning. Smith is the second Marlins starter to be sidelined within a week. Last Friday, Jose Urena landed on the 10-day DL with right shoulder impingement.
"It's a tough one," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I saw him before the game and obviously he was pretty down about something like that. We know it's going to take some time. It won't be overnight, 10 days or something like that. It's a tough one to swallow with a guy that's been showing so much promise for us this year. For that to happen, I'm sure he's pretty down right now."
There is encouraging news on Urena, who may be ready to return when he is eligible to come off the DL.
The Marlins might have some other rotation shuffling to do after Monday, because Dan Straily may opt to drop the appeal on his five-game suspension. MLB penalized Straily last Thursday for hitting Giants catcher Buster Posey with a pitch after warnings were issued last Tuesday in San Francisco. Elieser Hernandez will make a spot start for Urena on Tuesday against the D-backs. Wei-Yin Chen and Trevor Richards are lined up for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
No replacement has been named yet for Smith, who has gone 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 16 starts over 77 1/3 innings.
The Marlins have several internal starting options, and one of them is right-hander Sandy Alcantara, the organization's No. 2 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. The 22-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 14 starts at New Orleans.
"We've sat with him, and he knows what he needs to do," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "It's a process when you're a young starting pitcher. Obviously, we all know what he is capable of, and he's working hard every day to make himself a better and a complete pitcher. We'll talk with our development staff about him."
Alcantara, acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade, threw 8 1/3 innings last September upon his callup with St. Louis. Alcantara is a big part of the club's future and is having his innings monitored. He has tossed 85 innings at Triple-A as part of a six-man rotation.
"We want to make sure that when we do bring him, he will be in a position to be productive and help us win ballgames," Hill said.
Left-handers Dillon Peters and Jarlin Garcia are also at Triple-A, and both are on the 40-man roster. The Marlins could go with Meyer and Hernandez in the short term until they feel Alcantara is ready.
"It's a process for all of them, and even some guys who have pitched in the big leagues and had success, like Dillon Peters, you know there are still areas for them to improve," Hill said. "That's why they're still back in the Minor Leagues."
Pablo Lopez, the organization's No. 21 prospect, is also on the 40-man roster and was recently promoted from Double-A Jacksonville to Triple-A. The 22-year-old right-hander is being moved along slowly as well.
"Pablo, as you guys saw in Spring Training, is very mature for his age, and he's a strike thrower," Hill said. "Pablo, obviously, had a lot of success in Double-A, and we put him in Triple-A, and he continued to do the same thing."
Catcher J.T. Realmuto took a foul ball off his wrist on Sunday at Colorado and is getting a day or two to recover, according to Mattingly.