Could arm injuries sway Marlins towards bats?
Building around power pitching, in theory, is an ideal concept. Pitching, pecifically power pitching, is a prized and coveted commodity.
It’s also risky to put such a high priority at a time big arms are breaking down at an alarming rate.
The Marlins entered the season feeling they had assembled a collection of some of the finest young arms in the game. As long as Jose Fernandez was at the top of their rotation, the logic was sound.
One of the few teams with a true ace, the Marlins liked their chances with their 21-year-old All-Star setting the tone every five days.
Fernandez on Friday afternoon was set to have Tommy John surgery to repair a significant ligament tear to his throwing elbow.
When a young, strong, hard-thrower like Fernandez is lost roughly 16 months into his big league career, how does the team recover?
Well, the Marlins still have a bunch of quality arms. But the trouble the team has seen on this suddenly devastating road trip is quality arms don’t always execute quality pitches.
Nathan Eovaldi, who was throwing 97-99 mph on Thursday night at San Francisco, was roughed up in a game he was staked to leads of 3-0 and 4-1. Miami lost 6-4, falling back to .500.
In a long season, there are highs and lows. Pitching, like hitting, slumps from time to time. What’s been alarming about the Marlins during this stretch is their entire rotation has suddenly hit the wall. The lone starter during the road trip to stop the bleeding has been a 24-year-old prospect who a week ago never dreamed he’d be in the big leagues.
Anthony DeSclafani, promoted from Double-A Jacksonville, was given a shot to fill the rotation spot of Fernandez.
DeSclafani, too, has a power arm, hurling 95 mph fastballs and striking out seven at Dodger Stadium in a 13-3 win on Wednesday.
In moving forward, the Marlins still believe in building around pitching. The club also has the No. 2 overall pick in the June 5 First-Year Player Draft.
The general thinking has been the club will again go with a front-of-the rotation arm. The one arm closest to being big league ready is Carlos Rodon, the big lefty from North Carolina State.
The Astros, with the No. 1 pick, may go with Rodon. If not, the Marlins will have to decide.
We do know this in the past week, the Marlins are paying very close attention to a high school standout regarded as the best hitter in the Draft.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill was on hand a few days ago to watch Alex Jackson of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego.
Impressed with his natural hitting skills, the Marlins will continue to keep a close eye on the prep star.
This is a huge Draft for the Marlins, because they possess the Nos. 2, 36, 39 and 43 overall picks.
The organization is thin on bats, and has a chance to address that need.
Another theory is to load up on pitching, groom it, and if necessary, trade it for MLB-ready bats.
Banking on pitching, as we’ve seen throughout the Majors, is risky business. Fernandez’s injury has rocked the league, and put the Marlins in a rough spot to look to piece together what still could be a promising season.
Do they move forward thinking pitching first or guard themselves with an impact bat at a time arms are struggling to hold up?
If that is the case, Alex Jackson indeed could be the No. 2 player taken on June 5.
— Joe Frisaro