The Miami Marlins are heading into 2017 with a few questions marks but the biggest of them all will be; who replaces Jose Fernandez as the top arm in the rotation? There are players that can fill the spot as Ace but can they fill the void is another story? As it stands now, the Marlins are looking at 7-6 pitchers looking to claim the top five spots, While three are a pretty much shoe-in there will be a battle for the remaining two.
Here is the 2017 Miami Marlins Projected Starting Rotation.
Conventional wisdom may point to another as the Opening Day starter but why not hand the ball off to a player that has the actual experience to help strengthen this rotation? Volquez has a ring, he’s just the leader and pitcher that can offer the Marlins a solid seven innings per start. The run production will be no issue but with him coming from the American League, scouting reports will be different due to lack of plate appearances against him. If Volquez can continue to stay healthy as he has for the past three season (98 starts) this will be the reason the Marlins will be able to contend for the NL East. Health has played a huge role in the late season’s collapse but now, they have a pitcher that can hit the mound for 30+ starts.
Conley was pretty solid last season for the Marlins in 25 starts but the focus or pressure wasn’t on his shoulders as it may be this season. The young thrower can throw strikes and eat innings but it’s the issue with control (11 HBM) that will play a vital role in his progression and rotation spot. Conley recorded 124 SO in 133 innings. He has the tools to retire batters it’s just an issue of Conley handling pressure. He should be #2 in the rotation that has experience but not too heavy on talent.
By default he should be the Opening Day starter but, let’s be honest here, he’s not that good. He’s getting paid but, unless he had suddenly morphed into Justin Verlander he’s no better than 3rd in the rotation. In 2016 it was health as Chen started only 22 games but he amassed an ERA of 4.96 with only nine quality starts on the season. With the offense struggling last season due to injuries and suspensions it was just assumed that their pitchers would struggle. But Chen is a vet that proved to be a major disappointment. To place him as #1 heading into the 2017 season is like rewarding Jose Canseco with a HOF nod.
Maybe, just maybe Koehler did enough to catapult himself over Chen. But, due to Chen’s injury, I will give him a pass. Mark my words, by the end of 2017 Koehler will have passed Chen on the depth chart. Koehler was a bright spot in the Marlins rotation last season as he tossed 176 innings with 147 SO but his problem was a bit on the command side as well. Koehler can be a 170 SO pitcher if he can locate the plate better. He surrendered 88 walks in 2016, and for a team that struggled on the offensive end, the Marlins cannot afford to give up free baserunners.
Straily is another new arm to the team along with Volquez. If Straily can come in and do for the Marlins in the 5th spot what he did for Cincinnati Reds in 2016 then he could very well end up as the future ace. Straily tossed 191 innings with 31 starts (20 Quality) and 162 SO. He did manage to give up 31 home runs and 73 bases on balls but if he can lower those numbers in 2017 then the Marlins will be a dangerous opponent.