It’s a spot Jarlin Garcia is familiar with. As a starter in the Miami Marlins minor league system, he was ranked as high as the No. 3 prospect. Now, the lefty is trying to change roles on the major league level from long reliever to starter once again on the Marlins 25-man roster.
Garcia “auditioned” this past week in a relief role with the hope he will start on Wednesday when Miami plays the New York Mets in an early-season NFL East showdown. Garcia’s name has been mentioned as a starter in the 2018 rotation as early as mid-season last year when he appeared in 68 games in relief.
Miami Marlins manager hopes Garcia, 25, can make the transition that was successful for Jose Urena last year and led to Urena’s 14 wins on the mound.
Per MLB.com, Left-hander Jarlin Garcia threw four innings of relief on Thursday, and the next time he takes the mound could be Wednesday against the Mets at Marlins Park.
The Marlins’ rotation could feature Garcia along with Urena, Trevor Richards, Caleb Smith and Dillon Peters, the last starter to earn a win for the 2-6 ball club.
Jarlin Garcia signed as a free agent with the Miami Marlins, receiving a $40,000 signing bonus. He progressed slowly through Minor League Baseball, and was left exposed in the Rule 5 draft after the 2014 season. In 2015, the Marlins assigned García to the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League (FSL).
Garcia appeared in the FSL All-Star Game and was chosen to represent the Marlins at the 2015 All-Star Futures Game. The Marlins promoted him to the Jacksonville Suns of the Class AA Southern League in July. In 25 combined starts, Garcia had a 3.57 earned run average and 104 strikeouts in 133 2⁄3 innings pitched. The Marlins added Garcia to their 40-man roster after the season, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft.
Jarlin Garcia began the 2016 season with Jacksonville. After making seven starts with a 4.04 ERA for the Suns, the Marlins promoted him to the major leagues on May 15, 2016. They returned him to Jacksonville on May 20, without appearing in a major league game. After starting the 2017 season with Jacksonville, the Marlins promoted García to the major leagues on April 14.
He was moved to the bullpen before the start of Southern League season to prepare him for his move to the main roster. Last seasons he was the only left-handed pitcher in the Marlins bullpen.
Miami currently has four starters and doesn’t need a fifth until the series finale with the Mets. Mattingly noted after the club’s third straight loss that Garcia could be joining the rotation. The team is waiting for the return of starter Dan Straily, who has been dealing with inflammation of his forearm that sent him to the 10-day disabled list. Straily’s influence could help balance a youthful rotation that will need a veteran at the front end.
“There was a method to our madness with Jarlin, too,” Mattingly said. “I think he threw the ball pretty good. He had the one inning where he got into a little trouble. That’s where we’re at today. You guys can figure the math going forward. We’re going to need a guy eventually. We have four in the rotation.”
Asked if Garcia could potentially start, Mattingly said: “He could.”