Opening Day FAQ: Rockies vs. Marlins

March 27th, 2019

MIAMI -- The Marlins and Rockies came into the Major Leagues together as expansion teams in 1993, and they’ve met just once before on Opening Day. In 2014 at Marlins Park, the late Jose Fernandez came out on the winning end of a 10-1 decision.

On Thursday afternoon in Miami, the clubs meet once again to launch their respective seasons. The Rockies are sending left-hander Kyle Freeland to the mound against Miami right-hander Jose Urena.

In terms of their organizational directions, the Rockies are built to win now, while the Marlins are building for the future.

Under the direction of manager Bud Black, the Rockies have reached the playoffs two straight seasons, and they expect to contend again.

The Marlins, managed by Don Mattingly, are in the second year of their building process. Young starting pitching is the foundation that’s being put in place, and they will get a test against an explosive offense in the four-game series with the Rockies.

When is the game and how can I watch it?
First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. ET/2:10 p.m. MT. The Marlins' broadcasts are on Fox Sports Florida and 940 AM WINZ, while the Rockies' broadcasts are on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM. The game can also be seen live on MLB.TV.

Tentative starting lineups
Rockies: The Rockies tinkered with Nolan Arenado in the No. 2 hole, but at the end of Spring Training -- when he was on fire -- he was in the more familiar third slot. Black reserves the right to switch up there, and throughout. Daniel Murphy’s patient at-bats up top and the lefty potential of David Dahl and Ryan McMahon lower could make this a dangerous group.

Marlins: After finishing last in the Majors with 589 runs scored in 2018, the Marlins are looking to be an offense that relies heavily on putting the ball in play, playing to the gaps and utilizing speed to manufacture runs. They aren’t expected to be a big power-hitting team, but the Marlins are being built to take advantage of the expansive size of Marlins Park.

Who are the starting pitchers?
Rockies: Freeland deserved all the Cy Young Award buzz of last season, and has switched up his strategy -- he’ll increase the number of glove-side pitches -- to attempt to take another step. But the Marlins know little about him. He’s made just two relief appearances against them in his career, both when the Rockies were rationing his innings during his rookie 2017 season. 

Marlins: After throwing three perfect innings in his final Spring Training start on Saturday, Urena should be stretched out enough to throw about 100 pitches. Urena is making his second straight Opening Day start. He’s looking for a better outcome. The first pitch he threw in the 2018 season was belted for a home run by Ian Happ of the Cubs. The 27-year-old Urena had a solid Spring Training, posting a 2.63 ERA in 13 2/3 innings.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rockies: The goal will be to hand a lead to closer Wade Davis, who led the National League with a club-record 43 saves last season. Scott Oberg and Seunghwan Oh give the Rockies two solid righty setup men. One-time Marlin Mike Dunn, who underwent A/C joint surgery last September, has emerged as the most solid lefty setup guy. If something goes wrong, expect lefty Harrison Musgrave to serve as long man.

Marlins: The Marlins plan to use a closer by matchups, but veteran Sergio Romo, a free-agent signing, may be getting the nod if there is a save situation. Left-hander Adam Conley and right-hander Drew Steckenrider are closer options, as well as high-leverage setup candidates.

Any injuries of note?
Rockies: Versatile lefty Chris Rusin is out with upper-back tightness. He is working his way back, but the Rockies didn’t rush it. Righty Antonio Senzatela, who was up for a rotation spot or long relief, is on the same comeback trail. His ailment is an infected blister on his right foot. 

Marlins: Right-handed reliever Riley Ferrell, a Rule 5 claim from the Astros, will start off the season on the 15-day injured list with right biceps tendinitis.

Who is hot and who is not?
Rockies: McMahon sizzled throughout the spring, and the lineup fell into place at the end. For what Spring Training is worth, Blackmon hit .186 with one homer, but the swings and contact were fine at the end. Iannetta struggled until the end of spring, but it matters more that he has worked well with Freeland. The two concerning figures are relievers Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, who struggled last season. Shaw had a more solid spring than McGee, but McGee devoted his time to trying to hone a slider. 

Marlins: Garrett Cooper, limited to just 14 games in 2018 due to a right wrist injury that required surgery, came into Spring Training on a mission. Cooper showed he was healthy, and won the right-field job, hitting .395 in 43 Spring Training at-bats.

Anything else fans might want to know?
• Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson, who finished fourth in the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year Award balloting, showed signs of taking his game to the next level. Anderson hit .354 in Spring Training. But he received a scare during the Marlins’ Futures Game scrimmage, which featured players from the big league squad taking on some of the top younger prospects. In the game, Anderson was struck on the left triceps, just above the elbow, by a pitch. 

• It’s not as if Freeland can hear tales of success from the other Rockies pitchers who will start in this four-game series. None of them have ever won a game there. Friday's starter, righty German Marquez, is 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts; Saturday's starter, lefty Tyler Anderson, is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts; and Sunday's starter, righty Jon Gray, is 0-1, 3.86 in two starts. 

• Marlins Park is a rough venue for the Rockies, who are 7-17 there since the stadium opened in 2012. The Rockies’ only winning series there came in 2013. 

• Arenado hopes to turn over a new leaf at Marlins Park as he begins his eight-year, $260 million contract. Arenado is hitting .184 (14-for-76) with two homers and seven RBIs there. On Aug. 12, 2017, Arenado was ejected by umpire Pat Hoberg for throwing his bat after being called out on a check swing. Arenado said he did not throw his bat toward Hoberg, but could understand why Hoberg may have felt that way.