Inbox: Will Marlins get outside help for 'pen?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Miami fans

April 14th, 2016

The bullpen needs work. We have guys in the Minors, but do you see a trade in the future or any late free-agent signings?

-- @Redd_garcia

By far, the most asked questions have been about the bullpen, especially since Carter Capps (Tommy John surgery) is out for the season and Mike Dunn (left forearm strain) is on the disabled list. As presently constructed, there is a lack of pure power arms. Part of that is by design. In April, with the weather being unpredictable on the road and starters not yet built up, the club went with several relievers who can throw multiple innings. We've seen why. Miami's bullpen has thrown 29 1/3 innings in seven games, which ranks among the highest of any team in the Majors. The bullpen is being used nearly 4 2/3 innings a game. Considering the workload, their 3.07 ERA is respectable, and it ranks in the middle of the MLB pack.

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There isn't an urgent need at this point to make many changes. As for trades, that won't be in consideration until close to midseason. There are power arms like Kyle Barraclough, Nefi Ogando and Jose Urena at Triple-A New Orleans who could be hard-throwing options at some point. If needed, they are a roster move away.

Do you think that Urena's future is being a starter in this league?

-- @CoachWillemssen

Yes and no. Right now, Urena is in New Orleans' rotation, but he could wind up as a power arm in a setup spot for the Marlins. In that role in Spring Training, his fastball reached 99 mph.

That said, if Justin Nicolino is the sixth starter, meaning first to get a callup, Urena right now is No. 7. So if there is the need for two starters from New Orleans, Urena could be one of them.

Also keep in mind that this year, Urena's big league tenure may wind up being in the bullpen. But that doesn't mean he still couldn't be a rotation piece in 2017 or beyond. He offers versatility.

How long do you think they give Marcell Ozuna to adapt to hitting behind Dee Gordon before they make changes?

-- @blueGrassTubb

Another popular topic. Some asked if the club should switch Ozuna to No. 3 in the order and Christian Yelich to second. In New York, I asked manager Don Mattingly how long he would stick with an order before mixing things up. He responded that just because a lineup was drawn up for Opening Day doesn't mean changes can't be made. Read between the lines, and you can see Mattingly is open to adjusting as he sees fit.

Mattingly also added that he likes Ozuna batting second, a spot where he promises to see more fastballs, especially if Gordon is on in front of him. From the sound of things, one week's worth of games isn't enough time to reshape the top of the order.

What can the Marlins do about the starting pitching? Yes, it's early, but this feels like another year of flux in the bottom of the rotation.

-- @Miller_h97

Starting pitching sets the tone, right? So collectively, the starters need to do their part. The first week was difficult, and it wasn't all their fault. The cold weather in Washington and New York, plus one rain delay, also weighed into the subpar performance. Also, on Opening Day, Wei-Yin Chen bruised his left elbow after being struck by a batted ball. Adam Conley had a start at Washington where he lasted one inning because of an 85-minute rain delay.

What the Marlins first need to do about the starters is get them into a routine. That may start happening during this homestand, especially since Marlins Park has a roof.

But you never know what might happen with pitching. You could always be a blister away from making a change. As previously noted, Nicolino and Urena would be the first two options should starting depth become an issue. It's doubtful Miami will make a trade for a front-line starter, but that would depend on where the team is in July.