Marlins prospect Meyer 'pumped' to crack Opening Day rotation

March 27th, 2024

MIAMI -- Marlins No. 3 prospect was working out in the weight room at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium complex over the weekend when manager Skip Schumaker came up to him with something important to say.

"'You better be ready to go fifth day. You've got it,'" Meyer recalled on Tuesday. "And I was pretty pumped. I probably didn't show it too much, but I was pretty excited."

Meyer will make the Opening Day rotation, putting him in line to start on Monday to begin a three-game series against the Angels at loanDepot park. It would mark Meyer's third career big league start, and his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2022. He ranked as MLB Pipeline's No. 20 overall prospect at the time.

The last time Meyer took the mound in an MLB regular-season game was on July 23, 2022, in Pittsburgh, when he exited after 10 pitches. Earlier that year, he had been sidelined for a month with right ulnar nerve irritation before sustaining the UCL tear. Meyer had been trending toward a rehab assignment by the end of the 2023 season until experiencing a setback in July. An MRI revealed no structural damage, so he rested for a month to let the inflammation subside before throwing again.

During the Winter Meetings, Schumaker singled out Meyer as one of the players he was most looking forward to seeing in Spring Training. Miami planned on easing back the 25-year-old Meyer, who was optioned to Triple-A Jacksonville on March 12. In three Grapefruit League outings, he allowed just one unearned run on four hits to go along with five strikeouts, one hit batter and one walk across seven innings.

"All I can do is just pitch, and pitch well, and recover, so I don't really let anything really affect me like that anymore," Meyer said of being sent down. "It is what it is, and I'm just glad to have this opportunity now."

Miami's plan changed due to injuries to left-hander Braxton Garrett (general left shoulder soreness) and right-handers Edward Cabrera (right shoulder impingement) and Eury Pérez (mild right elbow inflammation). Opening Day starter Jesús Luzardo will be followed by fellow southpaws A.J. Puk, Ryan Weathers and Trevor Rogers, and now, the right-handed Meyer.

The Marlins elected to go this route rather than use bulk bullpen arms Bryan Hoeing and George Soriano.

“I thought he was our best available [option] to help us win,” Schumaker said of Meyer on Saturday. “Max was really good in Spring Training. He's coming off [an] injury, so we're trying to monitor his innings and pitch counts. All that is real this year. That's just the reality. He's part of the future of the Marlins, so he's not going to throw 200 innings this year.

“But I do feel like, right now, he's our best shot with a couple of guys on their way. With Brax and Eury and Cabbie, we've got some arms that are coming, but it's a nice option to have. I said that before when he was sent down: That's a really nice option to have. A couple of guys went down [injured] and here we are. I think he's our best option to help us win.”

In Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage at loanDepot park, Meyer went five innings and threw around 70 pitches. That was his first time going that deep into a game since his Major League debut on July 16, 2022.

"It kind of just was like, 'Well, I'm back now. I don't have to think about the past,'" Meyer said.