How Marlins rotation, final roster shapes up

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — At last, there is clarity to the Marlins rotation and projected final roster.

The only rotation spot the club has announced is Henderson Alvarez will start on Opening Day, which is April 6 at home against the Braves. The rest of the rotation is expected to fall in line with Mat Latos going in the second game, and Tom Koehler sliding into the No. 3 spot. That appears to be the trio that will face the Braves in the first series.

As things are shaping up now, Dan Haren will be the No. 4 starter, making his first appearance on April 10 at home against the Rays. Jarred Cosart, who is dealing with a blister to his right middle finger, projects as the fifth starter, making his first start on April 11.

Miami’s roster currently is at 34, and there is a strong chance the final roster will be set on Tuesday morning.

This is how I see the final 25 coming together.

Catcher: Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
First base: Michael Morse.
Second base: Dee Gordon.
Shortstop: Adeiny Hechavarria.
Third base: Martin Prado.
Left field: Christian Yelich.
Center field: Marcell Ozuna.
Right field: Giancarlo Stanton.

Three bench players are givens: catcher Jeff Mathis, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and infielder Jeff Baker.

In my opinion, and this is not official, Donovan Solano and Don Kelly will round out the bench. Kelly can play the corner infield spots, as well as the outfield. The left-handed hitter also would be an emergency third catcher. Solano plays middle infield, third base and he is a right-handed bat. What about Jordany Valdespin? He’s had a great spring. He also is signed to a Minor League contract, without an out clause. So if he doesn’t make it, he will open the year at Triple-A New Orleans.

The bullpen is tricky, and is giving the front office plenty to think about.

The locks in the ‘pen are Steve Cishek (closer), Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos and Bryan Morris. The club plans on taking two long relievers, David Phelps and lefty Brad Hand. That leaves one spot. It likely will go one of three ways. Rule 5 pick Andrew McKirahan has really turned heads and a number of clubs would be eager to trade for him if he doesn’t make the final spot. Miami likes the 25-year-old, too. But the lefty hasn’t pitched above Double-A, and the question remains — is he the best option to win now?

The Marlins will be counting on the bullpen to log plenty of innings, especially with the starting pitching potentially being shaky early. Of concern is whether McKirahan is ready?

If not, are they better off with either Aaron Crow or Sam Dyson, two right-handers who can both throw multiple innings.

My guess is McKirahan makes it. But that may not wind up being the case, and Crow or Dyson, could claim the final spot because the team clearly is in a win now mode.

Joe Frisaro

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