Miami Marlins Rotation Depth Chart

Thirteen pitchers started games for the Miami Marlins in 2014 including retreads like Brad Penny, Randy Wolf, and Kevin Slowey. They gave 150 innings to Brad Hand and Jacob Turner who combined to be pretty much replacement level, they lost sensation Jose Fernandez to the dreaded Tommy John, they hung Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney out to dry. And still, the Marlins beat almost everyone’s expectations thanks in large part to surprise contributions from Nathan Eovaldi, Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, and Tom Koehler.

Out is Eovaldi, shipped to the New York Yankees but in is Mat Latos and now that he’s apparently decided the Left Coast might not be the best coast, Dan Haren. This provides the Marlins rotation with a really quite interesting mix of youth and veteran presence that just might be fantasy worthy top to bottom.

First, there’s the wunderkind Fernandez who managed to amass 1.6 WAR in just 51 innings pitched before his elbow exploded. He pretty much did it all — eye-popping strikeout numbers, great control, ridiculous ERA and WHIP. The Marlins are saying that Fernandez might return sometime in June, and that’s pretty much spot-on the 12-13 month recovery timeline for pitchers of his age. Based on what we know about those who have returned from TJ surgery, there might be some cause for concern relative to his control, and typically pitchers return with reduced velocity, at least in the short term. He might not be entirely himself when he comes back, but even 85% of Fernandez is still probably worthy of a #2 slot in a fantasy rotation. If the Marlins are in the cellar come June, maybe they take it ultra cautious with him, but chances are they’ll be somewhere within striking distance of a playoff seat and they’ll want their ace back. Right now, his ADP appears to be in the early 200’s — so if you’re willing to stash him, he could be a nice mid-season boost.

Likely to be the opening day starter for the Marlins is Henderson Alvarez, who had a pretty fantastic season in 2014, pitching to a 2.65 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, relying on oodles of ground balls and his infield defense. If you check in with the predictors, FIP says Alvarez ought to have come in around 3.58 while SIERA says 3.70. Alvarez doesn’t miss many bats, but he does have great control and a dandy little change-up. He’s not going to get you much in the way of strikeouts, which probably explains why his ADP sits at around 300 (using NESN), but he could be a nice back of the rotation guy capable of putting up a better than average ERA and WHIP with a solid shot at double digit wins, should you be in such a league.

Slotting behind Alvarez is probably Mat Latos, who goes from one of the league’s most difficult places to pitch to one of the friendliest places to pitch. Given his recent proclivity for fly balls, this could be a real boon to his effectiveness. There are red flags with Latos. His velocity was down significantly last year, but many attribute that to elbow issue which dogged him pretty much all year as well as the meniscus surgery which kept him out until June. His K rate dropped from a career 22% down to 17.6% in 2014, so checking on his fastball radar in Spring is probably a decent idea. From 2010 to 2013, Latos was a pretty darned good starting pitcher in both real and fantasy circles, so I’m not sure a 3.65 FIP and 1.15 WHIP in an injury plagued 2014 should deter you that much. Given his change of scenery and an ADP around 180, he looks like a decent buy-low for the back end of your rotation.

Jarred Cosart is up next, and he had a rather maddening season with monthly FIP rates that went from over 5.00 to under 3.00. His 3.69 ERA was respectable enough but he demonstrated just a 15% K rate to go along with a total lack of control, driving his WHIP up to 1.36. He showed flashes where he could command his stuff, but his walk rate went anywhere from 5.1% one month to 12.7% the next. If you read his player cap, Eno Sarris points out how much movement Cosart gets on his main offerings, but until he can figure out where they are going, he’s probably best targeted as a bench stash.

Dan Haren recently decided that he will indeed pitch for the fish after all, conceding that nobody in his preferred region of Earth wanted to secure his services and perhaps $10 million dollars is a lot of clams to walk away from. Haren will probably be more consistent than Cosart, and he might even best his strikeout totals — but there’s no need to really consider upside with Haren as the veteran relies more on location and moxie than what was once one of the best cut fastballs in the game. His stuff sits in the mid-80’s now, his strikeout rate probably won’t break 18% and his ERA shouldn’t break 4.00. But if you’re in an NL-only league, he’d be a decent bench stash if you find yourself in a pinch.

Tom Koehler will keep a seat warm for Jose Fernandez and then will likely be the odd man out, unless injury or ineffectiveness jettison one of the names above, which is probably a bit of a coin toss. Koehler turned in one of the more surprising seasons among starting pitchers in 2014, pitching to a 3.81 ERA (3.84 FIP) with a 19% strikeout rate, but his lack of control resulted in a 1.30 WHIP. At almost 29, Koehler isn’t a kid they need to coddle, and he didn’t really blow the doors off AAA batters with a 4.44 ERA and 1.43 WHIP over 300+ innings. But he’s relatively safe for the Marlins to trot out there if none of their kids, or guys like Brad Hand or David Phelps fail to overwhelm in the Spring. He’s probably not worth rostering — but if you’re collecting Marlins, he won’t cost you, so there’s that.

Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

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I would really like to see Justin Nicolino get a shot at that last slot – a few of us still remember him as part of the ace 2012 Lansing Lugnut team that housed other top low-A pitching phenoms like Hutchison, Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez before Toronto blew up the farm to become a real player in the AL East. Given the talent that Miami’s been able to amass in their farm, he’d be relatively cheap and has little else to prove, although the peripherals never seemed to match up to his low-A talent.