The Marlins received a much-needed experience boost to their starting rotation when Wei-Yin Chen returned from the disabled list on Saturday and Dan Straily does the same tonight at Marlins Park.
“A fashionably late arrival to the season is finally upon us,” Straily said.
On the surface, it’s good news for the Marlins, obviously.
Though neither fits the profile of an ace-quality starter, something the Marlins haven’t had since Jose Fernandez, Chen and Straily bring established big-league résumés.
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Between them, they have more than 250 major-league starts, or three times the number belonging to the entire five-man rotation before their returns.
But one of the underlying benefits to the Marlins is this: improved depth at the minor-league level, something that’s been lacking for years and one of the key areas new ownership sought to address in the ongoing rebuild.
In terms of minor-league prospects, the Marlins ranked either last or next-to-last among all organizations before the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter takeover in October.
In past years, when the Marlins lost one of their starters, it was slim pickings down below for reinforcements.
Now the Marlins have choices to draw from.
To make room for Chen, the Marlins sent Trevor Richards back to the minors two days after the rookie’s dazzling start in Los Angeles, one in which he struck out 10 while allowing one hit.
On Monday, the Marlins placed long reliever Tyler Cloyd on the paternity list to clear a spot for Straily.
Richards, Sandy Alcantara and Adam Conley give the Marlins options at the minor league level they can call on for rotation help when the need arises.
“It’s just part of the cycle of baseball,” Straily said.
Straily experienced it first-hand when he was a rookie for Oakland in 2012 and ’13.
“I was in the shoes of those guys as a 23-year-old,” Straily said. “I’m the one that got sent down when Brett Anderson came back from rehab. I was the one that got bumped to the bullpen for a few games when Brandon McCarthy came back from the DL.”
Straily said no player ever wants to be demoted. But there’s a silver lining that comes with it, too.
“It really helped me,” Straily said. “It helped me understand what I was trying to do. I realized that maybe I was putting a little bit too much pressure on myself. It was a big learning experience.”
It’s why Straily understands how Richards must have felt.
“Coming off a game where you’ve punched out 10 guys in L.A.?” Straily said. “As a player, yes that stinks. I’ve been there. I struck out 10 Astros one game and got sent down five minutes after the game. I’ve done that. You don’t accept it. But, hopefully it puts a chip on people’s shoulder to keep pushing.”
Manager Don Mattingly said that if the Marlins have to dip into their system to call up one of those pitchers later on — an inevitability over the course of a long season — the decision will come with a much higher degree of comfort.
“We’re going to be calling up a guy who’s had some success here, who’s been here,” Mattingly said. “That’s a better feeling for us as an organization.”