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Despaigne back to bullpen for 4-man rotation

Club continues to utilize righty's versatility, remains spot-start candidate
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- Just when it appeared the Marlins had set all five rotation spots, the organization has shifted things up a little bit. Odrisamer Despaigne, who opened the season as the No. 3 starter, is now in the bullpen, and prospect Trevor Richards will stick in the rotation.

Despaigne was back in action Tuesday during a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox that went 13 innings. When the game with the Red Sox reached the 11th inning, the right-hander was called upon to work two innings. He allowed one run, but after Miami pulled even in the 11th inning, Despaigne logged a scoreless 12th inning.

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MIAMI -- Just when it appeared the Marlins had set all five rotation spots, the organization has shifted things up a little bit. Odrisamer Despaigne, who opened the season as the No. 3 starter, is now in the bullpen, and prospect Trevor Richards will stick in the rotation.

Despaigne was back in action Tuesday during a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox that went 13 innings. When the game with the Red Sox reached the 11th inning, the right-hander was called upon to work two innings. He allowed one run, but after Miami pulled even in the 11th inning, Despaigne logged a scoreless 12th inning.

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With Despaigne now in the bullpen, the Marlins have four starters -- Jose Urena, Caleb Smith, Dillon Peters and Richards, who made his MLB debut in a 7-3 loss on Monday to the Red Sox at Marlins Park.

The Marlins can get through with a four-man staff until April 11, the third game of a home series against the Mets.

"We'll stay with four for a while," manager Don Mattingly said.

The Marlins open a three-game series at Philadelphia on Thursday, and the club is off on Wednesday and Friday.

Even though Despaigne was one of Miami's best starters in Spring Training, and he was given the No. 3 spot, the plan had been to capitalize on the right-hander's versatility.

He showed that last Friday in Miami's 2-1 win over the Cubs in 17 innings. In Game 2, Despaigne pitched the top of the 17th, and he collected the win. The next day, he started and threw five innings, giving up five runs (four earned) with six strikeouts.

On Tuesday, Despaigne's versatility was utilized again.

"We like our flexibility a lot more," Mattingly said. "We struggled with innings [from the bullpen], just because we're still reeling a little bit from that 17-inning game. We think Odrisamer fits us and does the most for us, where I can pitch him three out of five days. I can use him in all kinds of different roles." 

The Marlins are carrying 13 pitchers, with four starters. Nothing has been announced, but if the club wanted to spot start Despaigne, it could on April 11.

Richards showed promise in his first big league start, giving up five runs with five strikeouts. But he retired the first seven batters he faced before getting into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings.

The club is hopeful that sometime in the next couple of weeks, Dan Straily (right forearm strain) will rejoin the rotation. And Elieser Hernandez (tooth infection) has thrown a simulated game.

"[Straily] is feeling really good," Mattingly said. "We're just building him up towards a 'pen. From there, we'll move to a rehab start, and then we'll see where he's at."

Jarlin Garcia continues to be an option in long relief, and it is unclear if he will make a start in the big leagues any time soon. The plan is for the lefty to be a starter, after he was used as a reliever in 2017. But the club could send Garcia to Double-A to join the Jumbo Shrimp's rotation. In the Minor Leagues, they can monitor his innings better.

The news also remains encouraging on Wei-Yin Chen, who is recovering from a left elbow strain.

On Monday, Chen pitched in a simulated game at the Marlins' Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. But the earliest he would join the rotation is May.

"He came out of that fine," Mattingly said. "Wei-Yin has been a nice surprise for us. His bullpens have been really good. He's thrown live BPs and we're getting him into sim games. We're getting closer for him to be to the point where he's in a rehab-type assignment, and getting him ready."

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

Miami Marlins, Odrisamer Despaigne