Fish Bytes

A lot of blank spaces. No easy answers for Don Mattingly.

Sandy Alcantara is among 10 candidates vying for three rotation spots.
Sandy Alcantara is among 10 candidates vying for three rotation spots.

There’s Dan Straily. There’s Jose Urena.

And then there’s this when it comes to identifying the rest of the Marlins’ five-man starting rotation:




With Opening Day rapidly approaching, manager Don Mattingly remains undecided on how he’ll complete the rest of the starting rotation, with as many as 10 candidates vying to fill three spots.

“It could go down to the wire,” Mattingly said. “There will still be some weeding out where it will become clear. We’ve still got innings we’re going through and want to keep giving guys chances to throw the ball and let us keep looking.”

Here’s a look at the eight candidates still in the mix:

1) Sandy Alcantara — Brings the most future upside of any of the contenders and has looked sharp this spring. But he’s young (22) and has never made a Major League start. The Marlins might prefer that he develop further in the minors, but might not have a choice given the dearth of quality candidates.

Spring stats: He’s allowed one earned run in eight innings (1.13 ERA) with four strikeouts and a pair of walks.

2) Jacob Turner — One of the most experienced candidates of the bunch with 55 career big-league starts. But the results have been underwhelming: an 11-25 record and 5.21 ERA.

“I don’t think anybody necessarily gets an edge just because you have experience,” Mattingly said. “But it’s nice to have a guy that’s pitched in the big leagues.”

Spring stats: Has allowed three earned runs in 11 2/3 innings (2.31 ERA), with seven strikeouts and four walks.

3) Dillon Peters — Hasn’t looked nearly as sharp this spring as he did this time a year ago, and could still be trying to find his form after missing two months last summer with a thumb injury.

“We like his pens, but you’ve still got to see it (in games),” Mattingly said.

Spring stats: Has allowed four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings but has walked eight batters in that short span.

Adam Conley is trying to rebound from a disappointing 2017 season and cement a spot in the starting rotation.

4) Adam Conley — Conley has made 56 Major League starts with inconsistent results, showing promise in 2015 and ’16 but struggling through a poor 2017 season when he went 8-8 with a 6.14 ERA.

Spring stats: Has allowed five earned runs in eight innings (5.63 ERA) and striking out just two batters.

5) Caleb Smith — Obtained from the Yankees in November, Smith put up solid numbers in the minors (9-1, 2.41 last season), but didn’t fare so well in his only two big-league starts last season for the Yankees.

Spring stats: Has allowed three earned runs in seven innings of work, striking out seven and walking three.

6) Justin Nicolino — Is in a now-or-never spot for the Marlins. He’s out of options, which will force the Marlins to make a decision. He’s ditched his cutter in favor of a slider, and the results have been a bit more promising this spring. Could land in the bullpen if he doesn’t win a rotation spot.

Spring stats: Has allowed two earned runs in six innings, striking out six.

7) Jarlin Garcia — Turned in a strong rookie season out of the bullpen last year, but the Marlins are moving him back into a starting role. One factor that will likely weigh into the Marlins’ decision: because he worked just 53 innings — all in relief last season — the Marlins will cap his innings this season as he builds back arm strength.

Spring stats: Has not allowed a run in four innings.

8) Odrisamer Despaigne — Despaigne has been around the block with three teams over the past four years. Can start or relieve, which could help his chances of making the 25-man roster.

Spring stats: Has thrown 11 innings — most of any Marlins pitcher — this spring and allowed four earned runs.

9) and 10) Elieser Hernandez and Brett Graves — The two Rule 5 picks are extreme long shots.

Conclusion: “It’s still pretty much up in the air,” Mattingly said.


▪ Justin Bour (back spasms) was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game Sunday. With a day off on Monday, the Marlins chose to give Bour three consecutive days of rest before a possible return to action Tuesday.

▪ J.T. Realmuto, returned to the lineup Sunday after missing the previous two games with a bruised left knee, suffered a bruise to his lower back when he collided with Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres after he was picked off at second base.

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