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Marlins ace Smith placed on injured list

Kinley called up from Triple-A New Orleans; Nunez close to signing
@JoeFrisaro
June 7, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins' rotation, the strength of the squad, will be without one of its main cogs for at least 10 days. The club announced Friday that it is placing left-handed starter Caleb Smith on the 10-day injured list with left hip inflammation. In a corresponding move, Miami called

MIAMI -- The Marlins' rotation, the strength of the squad, will be without one of its main cogs for at least 10 days.

The club announced Friday that it is placing left-handed starter Caleb Smith on the 10-day injured list with left hip inflammation. In a corresponding move, Miami called up right-handed reliever Tyler Kinley from Triple-A New Orleans.

Smith’s injury will end the Marlins’ string of starting the same five starters all season. They were the last team to go with the same rotation from Day 1.

In Thursday’s 5-1 loss at Milwaukee, Smith gave up four runs (three homers) in five innings, and struck out just two. His average four-seam fastball velocity dropped to 90.9 mph in that start, compared to 93 mph on May 31 at San Diego.

“It's been bothering me the last couple of starts,” Smith said. "I just haven't really felt the same. Yesterday was the worst that it's been.”

Smith’s spot in the rotation isn’t up until Tuesday against the Cardinals. At that point, the Marlins will decide to either promote from the Minor Leagues or perhaps use an opener, with Wei-Yin Chen being mentioned as one of the options.

“We've talked about a number of different things,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Where our rotation is in Triple-A. We've talked about possibly doing an opener game, using our bullpen more. Chen could be part of that in some fashion.”

A prospect that is not expected to fill the void, at least initially, is Triple-A New Orleans right-hander Zac Gallen, who has impressed with an 8-1 record and 1.67 ERA.

Gallen, Miami’s No. 18 prospect per MLB Pipeline, is not on the 40-man roster.

Triple-A’s Elieser Hernandez is on the 40-man roster, and could be part of the plans next week.

Smith, 27, has been a bright spot for Miami, compiling a 3.41 ERA over 12 starts while striking out 82 hitters and walking 20 over 66 innings. But the southpaw had tailed off over his last three starts, allowing 11 earned runs over 13 innings and surrendering six home runs.

Smith entered Friday having induced a swing and miss on 32.3% of the total swings against him in 2019, placing him eighth among 106 qualified starters (min. 400 total swings generated) according to Statcast. His 31.5% strikeout rate ranks fifth among qualified starters behind stars Gerrit Cole, Blake Snell, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer.

In his first seven starts, Smith was seventh among NL starters in ERA (2.11). But in his last five starts, it’s been 5.79.

“I wasn't able to drive off the mound,” Smith said. “I'm usually like 92-94 [mph], maybe touch 95 every now and then. It was 88-90 [Thursday]. So, it's a pretty big difference.”

Nunez close to signing

Second-round pick Nasim Nunez, a shortstop from Collins Hill, Ga., is close to finalizing a contract with the Marlins. A Clemson commit, Nunez could officially be signed by early next week.

The Marlins took Nunez with the 46th pick, and the slot value of the pick is $1.62 million.

Miami’s first two picks -- Vanderbilt outfielder JJ Bleday and Missouri outfielder Kameron Misner, are not yet close to signing.

International signing

The Marlins have made an international signing, inking left-hander Luis Gonzalez before the 2018-19 international signing period ends on June 15. A 19-year-old from Cuba, Gonzalez has a 90-92 mph fastball.

Victor Victor Mesa update

Outfield prospect Victor Victor Mesa, Miami’s No. 2 prospect, has not played at Class A Advanced Jupiter since Tuesday. He has been dealing with some hamstring tightness, and as a precaution has been getting rest. Mesa is not on the Minor League 10-day injured list.

Injury update

Right-hander Julian Fernandez, recovering from Tommy John surgery, experienced a setback in his throwing program. He’s been shut down with right elbow discomfort.

Riley Ferrell (right biceps tendinitis) is throwing long toss, and scheduled to throw an inning in extended spring training on Saturday.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.