JUPITER, Fla. -- Carrying 13 pitchers worked well for the Marlins in 2017, and there's a strong possibility the club will enter the season with an extra pitcher yet again.Because so much can change before setting the Opening Day roster, the club isn't officially declaring it will go with eight
JUPITER, Fla. -- Carrying 13 pitchers worked well for the Marlins in 2017, and there's a strong possibility the club will enter the season with an extra pitcher yet again.
Because so much can change before setting the Opening Day roster, the club isn't officially declaring it will go with eight relievers. But it's highly likely, barring something unforeseen.
The tentative plan of five starters and eight relievers became more accepted throughout the big leagues last year, but it was a change from 2016, when the Marlins went with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.
"I'd say that would be our original plan and where we start," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "And try to build versatile players who play multiple positions. With the state of pitching and bullpens, and how much you go to them and how quickly you go to them, 13 seems to be the norm now, more than the exception."
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At this point, the Marlins have two rock solid starters in their rotation: Dan Straily and Jose Urena. The other three spots are up in the air.
It's a deep pool of candidates, which includes lefty Jarlin Garcia, who is converting from the bullpen to the rotation. Last season, Garcia paced the club in appearances with 68.
But there is no guarantee Garcia will make the Opening Day rotation. He will have to earn his place as he builds up his innings.
One thing the Marlins aren't contemplating is going with a six-man rotation. At least one club, the Angels, are doing that to help acclimate Shohei Ohtani.
"There's been no talk of that," Mattingly said. "We're at a five-man rotation."
All in for pace of play
The concept of picking up the pace of play is perfectly fine with Mattingly. The question the club has is what specific measures may eventually be put into place in an attempt to speed up games.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority to implement rules, such as a pitch clock, to speed up times of games. Those changes may be adopted for Spring Training contests.
Like all clubs, the Marlins are waiting to see what guidelines they will be going with at some point in Grapefruit League action.
"I'm all for pace of play, for sure," Mattingly said. "There's a lot of things we can do to quicken the pace. I think from the fans' point of view, it's action. Let's keep this thing moving. It can be a 2-1 game, but it's action."
There's talk of instituting a pitch clock or enforcing more strict rules that require hitters to keep at least one foot in the box between pitches.
Mattingly is for ways to get players moving quicker on and off the field after innings.
"Let's get on the field, let's get off the field," Mattingly said. "Let's keep hitters in the box. We don't need to be walking around the mound all day. Let's keep the game going at a pace that everyone enjoys. That doesn't mean that we have to go so fast to speed up the time. If we keep the pace going, it's more action, fans are more involved. It's just a better game."
• In the offseason, Straily was briefly mentioned in trade discussions. The Orioles were among the teams that expressed interest. But Miami intends to retain Straily, and the right-hander is fully committed to being part of the building process.
"I want to be here," Straily said. "I want to win here. I want to grow as an organization here. You can't give your best to your teammates and your team and everything that's involved if you're constantly thinking about and worried about if you're going to get traded."
• Sharif Othman, a non-roster invitee, sustained a fluke injury while catching a bullpen session on Friday morning. While receiving a pitch, Othman dislocated his left shoulder and was carted to the clubhouse for treatment.
Up next: Pitchers and catchers workouts resume at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday at the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Complex. Practices are open to the public.