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Rotation materializing for first go-around

Smith, Despaigne will follow Urena in right-left-right setup for Cubs series
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The top of the Marlins rotation has been set, and it will feature a right-left-right mix. Left-hander Caleb Smith was announced as the Game 2 starter on Friday against the Cubs, and right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne will throw on Saturday.

Miami opens on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET against the Cubs at Marlins Park, with right-hander Jose Urena getting the nod. Jon Lester was start the first of the four-game series with Chicago.

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MIAMI -- The top of the Marlins rotation has been set, and it will feature a right-left-right mix. Left-hander Caleb Smith was announced as the Game 2 starter on Friday against the Cubs, and right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne will throw on Saturday.

Miami opens on Thursday at 12:40 p.m. ET against the Cubs at Marlins Park, with right-hander Jose Urena getting the nod. Jon Lester was start the first of the four-game series with Chicago.

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Manager Don Mattingly set the two and three spots on Tuesday morning, before the Marlins faced the University of Miami at Marlins Park.

After the game, the club is expected to announce the rest, or close to the remainder, of the 25-man roster, which doesn't have to be set until Thursday morning.

Nothing is official, but catcher J.T. Realmuto is expected to open the season on the disabled list due to a lower-back bruise.

Although the Marlins will give the Cubs a right-left-right look in the first series, Mattingly noted that was more by coincidence. The team actually has been looking at upcoming off-days and how they wanted to line up their rotation for after they return from their first road trip, which is from April 6-8 at Philadelphia.

"That determined what we did, rather than the left-right thing," Mattingly said.

The candidates for the fourth and fifth spots are Dillon Peters -- who started on Tuesday against the Miami Hurricanes -- and Trevor Richards, who is not on the roster. Richards also was in uniform against UM. The fact that Richards, who isn't on the 40-man roster, was asked to be with the Marlins instead of remaining with Triple-A New Orleans may be a sign he will be in the rotation.

Lefty Jarlin Garcia also is in Miami, but he is expected to start off at Double-A Jacksonville.

The Marlins acquired Smith from the Yankees in a Minor League trade last November. Also in the deal was first baseman/outfielder Garrett Cooper, who also has made Miami's Opening Day roster.

With New York last year, Smith threw 18 2/3 innings and had a 7.71 ERA in 17 games with two starts. But at Triple-A as a starter, he had a 2.39 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings.

"Caleb has been an interesting guy from the standpoint [that] we've liked what we saw coming over from the Yankees," Mattingly said. "He's a powerful-body guy. We like his stuff. He's left-handed. We think he's ready to pitch here. He's proven himself at the Triple-A level."

Smith's fastball in Spring Training reached 95 mph.

Despaigne, 30, is the most versatile pitcher on the roster. He's been used in multiple roles, and will open as the No. 3 starter.

"He's a guy I think is really flexible for us, and we look at him in multiple roles," Mattingly said. "He's been a starter, spot starter, long guy, could go short out there, also. We think he has the stuff to do that because he throws strikes, and he can hold runners."

The Marlins have a volume of young starters coming up through the system that they do not want to rush, including Sandy Alcantara.

Acquired from the Cardinals in the Marcell Ozuna trade, Alcantara is Miami's No. 3 ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline. While he throws 98-100 mph, the Marlins felt he still needs more seasoning at Triple-A New Orleans.

Even with Dan Straily opening on the season on the disabled list, the Marlins weren't tempted to speed up Alcantara's development.

"When we sent Sandy out, we felt like we were pretty confident that he needed to continue to develop," Mattingly said. "That's one of the things we talked about in the winter. We don't want to rush our guys to the big leagues. He was one of those guys, obviously, who was at the top of that list, because of how good we think he can be.

"We don't really think this is the best place for him to keep developing. Obviously, we hope that's quickly. We hope he gets down there, gets rolling and the guys are saying, 'Hey, he's 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, Caleb Smith