Notes: Fifth-spot battle raging; injury updates
MIAMI -- Competition still exists for the Marlins’ fifth-starter spot.
The race appears to be between Jordan Yamamoto and Elieser Hernandez, with prospects Nick Neidert and Robert Dugger in the wings.
Yamamoto and Hernandez each pitched on Sunday in a simulated scrimmage at Marlins Park. And on Monday night, Miami had its first full scrimmage with set rosters, which finished 0-0 after five innings.
“I thought Elieser was a tick sharper [Sunday] than Yami,” said manager Don Mattingly. “Yami made a bunch of good pitches. I thought both guys looked good.”
The Marlins have yet to name their starting rotation for this season, but the first four slots appear to be filled by Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, José Ureña and Pablo López. Alcantara is the expected Opening Day starter on July 24 at the Phillies.
Whether it is Yamamoto or Hernandez in the fifth spot, the other is likely to make the club as a reliever. The Marlins have also talked about having two starters piggyback off each other, which could be an option as well.
In the 60-game season, the Marlins likely will need as much pitching depth as possible. Rosters will be set at 30 players for the first two weeks of the season, and they will then drop to 28 for the second two weeks. From there, they will be at 26 for the remainder of the season. Miami may carry as many as 17 pitchers.
“We’ve been talking about this in the locker room,” Yamamoto said. “This is a sprint, not a marathon. [We’ll do] whatever we need to do, because not many of us have played in games that mattered to make it to the playoffs.”
As a rookie in 2019, Yamamoto went 4-5 with a 4.46 ERA in 15 starts. Hernandez appeared in 21 games (15 starts) with a 3-5 record and a 5.03 ERA.
Hernandez has experience starting and relieving, but for now, he is competing to start.
“I’ve got to keep doing my job now,” he said through an interpreter. “What I’m looking [for] is to gain a spot on the rotation.”
Neidert, Miami’s No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, threw four shutout innings on Monday, striking out three, with two walks and three hits allowed. Dugger, the club’s 30th-ranked prospect, also didn’t allow a run in four innings, yielding two hits with two strikeouts.
Brigham, Stanek update
Relievers Jeff Brigham and Ryne Stanek each pitched in a simulated game on Sunday, but it remains questionable if either will be ready for Opening Day.
The two right-handers dealt with injuries in Spring Training before MLB suspended play due to the coronavirus pandemic. Brigham (right biceps) didn’t pitch at all in Grapefruit League games, and Stanek (lower back tightness) was shut down a couple of weeks into camp.
Although both are now facing batters, the question is whether they will be completely ready and sharp enough for the regular season.
“Brigham is starting to feel comfortable,” Mattingly said. “He’s not quite there yet. We’re not sure about [him].”
Mattingly said Stanek is ahead of Brigham, but there are still some questions.
Entering Spring Training, both pitchers were projected to make the club. Stanek, who threw 77 innings in 2019, was more of a candidate to pitch in the late innings. Brigham showed promise later in the season, throwing 38 1/3 innings with a 4.46 ERA.
“[Brigham] is just now getting where he’s past that mode,” Mattingly said. “He’s no longer in a sense hurt. He’s just not ready. Is he going to have time to get ready?
“[Stanek] is kind of the same, but he seems further along.”
• Monday’s scrimmage may have provided a hint at what the Marlins’ Opening Day lineup will look like. One squad had the expected infield -- Jesús Aguilar (first base), Isan Díaz (second), Miguel Rojas (shortstop) and Brian Anderson (third). The other side had what could be the starting outfield -- Corey Dickerson (left field), Jonathan Villar (center) and Harold Ramirez (right).
• Catcher Jorge Alfaro hit a double and threw Rojas out trying to steal second base.