When the Marlins broke camp in late March, they were one of the fortunate clubs with a clean bill of health come Opening Day. That is no longer the case entering the fourth week of the season.
The injuries are piling up for the Marlins, and it couldn't have come at a more inopportune time: Thursday night's 3-0 loss to the Giants at Oracle Park began a three-city, 10-game trip. Miami, which entered having won seven of 10 after a 1-6 start, is without three starting position players and two members of the rotation.
“We have some experience from last year,” said Jon Berti, alluding to last season’s COVID-19 outbreak. “A lot of the returning guys understand how it goes, and we can't control that kind of thing. We’ve just got to come to the ballpark every day and whoever's healthy and available, we're going to put the work in and do what we can to help this team win, and go from there. You hate to see a lot of the guys starting to go down like that, but like I said, we're just trying to do our best to get some wins out there.”
Here's a breakdown of who is sidelined and who will be asked to step up in the meantime.
Options: Jon Berti, Miguel Rojas , Jose Devers
The organization doesn’t have much third-base depth. Berti, who picked up one of Miami’s two hits on Thursday, will see the bulk of the action. Rojas, the club's starting shortstop, would be the backup option. In those cases, that could mean a middle-infield combination of rookies Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Devers. The 21-year-old Devers is a middle infielder, but he did receive third-base reps this spring in order to get at-bats. Miami’s No. 8 prospect has never played above the Class A Advanced level.
“If I don't play Bert, it's probably going to have to be Miggy over there,” Mattingly said. “So it's primarily Bert to hold down the fort. [It’ll] be good for him to get in there and get him going.”
Out: Elieser Hernandez (right biceps inflammation) and Sixto Sánchez (right shoulder inflammation)
Hernandez and Sánchez have yet to begin throwing bullpen sessions, though the former is scheduled to do so next week. Projected as Miami's Nos. 3-4 starters in the rotation to open the season, they have one combined appearance. Hernandez exited during his season debut on April 3, while Sánchez experienced a setback after a delayed start to spring.
Options: Daniel Castano, Nick Neidert, Paul Campbell, Shawn Morimando, Braxton Garrett
Castano made his second start of the season on Thursday, giving up three first-inning runs with two outs but nothing else over the next four frames. Though the rookie left-hander doesn't pile up the strikeouts (3.2 K/9), he has a 3.78 ERA in eight career starts.
"I don't really think about all the big-picture stuff," Castano said. "Like I said last week, I'm just thinking one pitch at a time, one game at a time, one inning at a time. ... It's not my job to focus on everybody else's business; obviously I want to set the tone and get a win for the team, but I'm just trying to do my job for the team and help us win."
Right-hander Neidert, who posted a 6.75 ERA in three starts, was optioned to the alternate training site following his outing on Tuesday. Miami's No. 10 prospect was unable to complete five innings in each of his appearances.
Campbell, a Rule 5 Draft pick, has made 33 Minor League starts but none in the Majors. Of his three relief outings, two have gone for multiple innings -- with 38 pitches being the most he has thrown in a game. Morimando, who is on the taxi squad, is not on the 40-man roster. He last pitched in MLB in 2016 with Cleveland, and most recently was named the Australian Baseball League pitching champion for his performance this past winter. Garrett, Miami’s No. 7 prospect, started two doubleheaders in 2020.
Out: Starling Marte (left rib fracture)
Marte is the club's best all-around player. Before the injury, he was slashing .316/.420/.491 with a .912 OPS and was in the 90th percentile for outs above average.
Options: Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra
Right-handed-hitting Brinson is being given a chance to start on an everyday basis in Marte’s place -- at least for now. He has gone 2-for-10 in three games since being recalled. Left-handed-hitting Sierra struck out looking in a pinch-hit appearance on Thursday, and is 1-for-9 this season.
Out: Jorge Alfaro (left hamstring strain)