Time now for young arms to shine

MIAMI — If the Marlins are going to turn things around, they’ll be counting heavily on some of their young pitching prospects. Injuries have placed them in this tough predicament.

After Friday’s 8-5 loss to the Orioles, Miami placed Henderson Alvarez (right shoulder inflammation) and Mat Latos (left knee inflammation) on the disabled list. So the club will be without the starters who were Nos. 1 and 2 in its rotation when the season opened.

The ailing rotation also has Jarred Cosart (vertigo) on the DL, so they are down three from the group that opened the year.

For immediate help, the Marlins are bringing up two relievers from Triple-A New Orleans — Andre Rienzo and Vin Mazzaro, who will have his contract selected. Rienzo offers flexibility because he can start.

The team won’t need another starter until Tuesday. It’s expected to be either prospect Justin Nicolino or Jose Urena. Both are at New Orleans. Kendry Flores at Double-A Jacksonville is also knocking on the door, being ready for a promotion to the big leagues.

Alvarez’s injury will be one to watch. Jon Heyman of CBSsports.com reported Alvarez has been pitching for years with a partial ucl tear in his elbow. I’ve confirmed that, and heard the Marlins were aware of his medical situation when they made their 12-player trade with the Blue Jays after the 2012 season. Miami was comfortable with Alvarez’s medical
report, just as Toronto knew Josh Johnson had arm issues. So each team was willing to accept the potential risks.

Latos going on the DL was not unexpected. He admitted a few weeks ago in San Francisco that he had his left knee drained in Spring Training, which explains some of his April struggles.

Clearly, Latos was laboring. The fact Latos and Alvarez struggled to get through six innings put added stress on an already shaky bullpen.

As big of a hole as the Marlins placed themselves in, the objective is to get close to .500 by the All-Star Break. If they can do that, they will have Jose Fernandez back, and they could still make a playoff push.

In order to get there, prospects like Nicolino, Urena and perhaps Flores could play a major role.

It’s a tall task. Maybe an unrealistic one. But they are healthy, and right now, appear to give the Marlins their best chances to win.

Joe Frisaro

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