Miami Marlins

Marlins’ quest to defy the odds begins this week against chief rivals

Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez works against the St. Louis Cardinals in a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Jupiter, Fla.
Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez works against the St. Louis Cardinals in a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Jupiter, Fla. AP

The Opening Day roster the Marlins unveiled Sunday looked nearly identical to what most predicted before spring training.

The popular forecast for the upcoming season, however, is something the Marlins hope turns out to be far less accurate.

Most oddsmakers have predicted the Marlins, who went 79-82 and finished third in the National League East last year, to wind up about the same or possibly worse.

The death of ace Jose Fernandez has left a major void in a starting rotation that despite a few offseason acquisitions is still ranked by many among the worst in the majors.

Bovada.com has projected the Marlins to finish once again in third place in the National League East. Their win total odds are 76 1/2.

And they are one of the top three teams most wagered to finish with even fewer wins than their projected total. The Marlins have not made the playoffs since 2003 and not had a winning season since 2009.

"Obviously you look at things on paper and where things may work out, but until you actually get out there and start kind of going game-to-game and get some innings on the board, you don't actually know," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I feel confident with our club. I trust these guys that we're ready to go and that they'll be ready, and that they’re going to do the things necessary to take this team to the next level."

Edinson Volquez, will match up against the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg in his Marlins’ debut which will be his fifth Opening Day start with his fourth different team.

Volquez (10-11, 5.37 ERA) is coming off his worst season in four years, but has the most experience of any of the five starters, having pitched in a World Series with the Royals in 2015.

Dan Straily is coming off a career-best season (14-8, 3.76 ERA) and will start Wednesday with Tom Koehler starting Thursday.

Wei-Yin Chen, who missed three months last season with an elbow strain, opens the Mets series on Friday. Adam Conley, who went 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA in his first full season, will start Saturday.

The Marlins are opening the season with eight relievers in an effort to shorten the game and take some of the pressure off the starting staff.

Koehler, the longest tenured member of the rotation, believes the key for the group is to pitch to their strengths and not concern themselves with amount of innings.

"I like where we’re at as long as we stay within ourselves and don’t try to do things we’re not capable of doing," Koehler said. "I think the mindset we’re taking is to throw until they tell us to stop. If that’s five [innings] one day or six or even nine, it’s not going to make a difference. We’re going to do the best job we can."

WORLEY SIGNED

The Marlins signed right-handed pitcher Vance Worley to a minor-league deal Sunday.

Worley was in camp with the Washington Nationals, who released him earlier this week after he compiling a 4.80 ERA in 15 innings. The move comes two days after Marlins’ pitching prospect Jake Esch was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres.

Worley, 29, went 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA with the Baltimore Orioles last season pitching primarily as a reliever. He made four starts and 35 appearances overall, pitching 86 2/3 innings.

Worley is 33-30 in seven major-league seasons with a 3.75 ERA, and will open the season at Triple A New Orleans.

ROSTER MOVES

First baseman/left fielder Tyler Moore earned the final spot on the 25-man roster as expected. The Marlins will carry 13 pitchers and four bench players - Moore, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Rojas and A.J. Ellis - as planned.

Martin Prado (right hamstring strain), Jeff Locke (left shoulder tendinitis) and Odrisamer Despaigne (left oblique sprain) were each placed on the 10-day disabled list retro to March 30. The move gives them the option to activate Prado as early as their home opener April 11 if he were ready, although the club isn’t planning on rushing his return to the lineup.

COMING UP

Monday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (10-11, 5.37 ERA in 2016) vs. Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (15-4, 3.60 ERA in 2016), 1:05 p.m., Nationals Park.

Tuesday: Off.

OPENING DAY LINEUP

Gordon 2b, Realmuto c, Yelich cf, Stanton rf, Bour 1b, Ozuna lf, Dietrich 3b, Hechavarria ss, Volquez rhp

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