The workhorse of the Miami Marlins’ starting rotation has been shut down.
The Marlins announced Friday ahead of their three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates that Jose Urena, the team’s Opening Day starter for the past two seasons, has been moved to the 60-day Injured List with a herniated disc in his lower back. The earliest he can return is mid August.
Urena was initially placed on the 10-day IL on Wednesday after feeling tightness in his lower back during a bullpen session earlier in the week. An MRI on Wednesday revealed that the injury was more severe than originally thought.
“Not the news we wanted to hear,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Urena, 27, had been the team’s workhorse in a starting rotation headlined by youth. He was the only player among the Marlins’ initial five starting pitchers — a group that also includes Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith — to have thrown an entire season at the MLB level heading into 2019.
And he was hitting his groove as well.
Urena went on the IL after going 4-7 with a 4.70 ERA through his first 13 starts this season. He had a streak of nine consecutive games pitching at least six innings — eight of which he gave up no more than three runs — snapped on Friday night when he gave up six earned runs on 11 hits in a 7-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Friday to begin the Marlins’ nine-game homestand.
“It’s something we’ll deal with — he’ll deal with,” Mattingly said. “Once this this thing calms down, we’ll get him back and see where this thing goes.”
Neither Mattingly nor Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill believe Urena’s injury is season-ending.
Urena is one of two Marlins starting pitchers on the IL, with Caleb Smith going on the 10-day IL on Friday with left-hip inflammation.
The Marlins, as a result, had Elieser Hernandez start on Tuesday and Jordan Yamamoto start Wednesday in place of Smith and Urena, respectively. It snapped a streak of 64 consecutive games to start the season in which the Marlins only used five starting pitchers.
“It just speaks to the need of depth and having guys who are ready to step in,” Hill said. “It was nice to see what Elieser was able to do and what Jordan was able to do. ... Definitely speaks to the need to be able to add as much talent and depth as you can so that inevitably when injuries happen and something does happen that you’re able to withstand and not miss a beat.”
Prado sidelined, too
In addition to the Urena news, the Marlins announced that veteran infielder Martin Prado was placed on the 10-day IL with right hamstring tightness. Prado suffered the injury running to first base in the third inning of Wednesday’s 9-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Marlins selected the contract of utilityman Yadiel Rivera to take Prado’s place on the 25-man active roster. Urena’s movement to the 60-day IL allowed the Marlins to add Rivera to the 40-man roster.
It’s the latest in a long-line of injuries for Prado over the past three seasons. Prado played in just 91 games during the 2017 and 2018 seasons while dealing with an assortment of injuries. The Marlins eased him into playing time this year, hoping to keep him healthy. Prado was hitting .239 with seven doubles, 12 RBI and 17 runs scored in 51 games this year
He is one of six Marlins players actively on the 10-day IL. The others: Smith (left-hip inflammation), first baseman Neil Walker (right quad strain), utilityman Jon Berti (left oblique strain), catcher Chad Wallach (concussion) and first baseman/outfielder Peter O’Brien (bruised left rib).
Urena joins three Marlins relief pitchers — Riley Ferrell (bicep tendinitis), Julian Fernandez (rehab from Tommy John surgery) and Drew Steckenrider (right elbow inflammation) — on the 60-day IL.