Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said it best.
"For us, you have to be creative. You have to acquire talent by any means necessary, when you're in a situation where you don't have the ability to go out and spend as much as others."
If Miami is going to make another run at the playoffs in 2017, it is going to have to figure out a bullpen that can give the starting rotation key innings and solve some of the hiccups the team dealt with in 2016. While manager Don Mattingly was constantly trying to patch together a starting rotation that was constantly dealing with injuries and a lack of a quality fifth starter, the bullpen was also use quite a bit down the stretch and had to work with injuries to Mike Dunn and AJ Ramos as well as substituting relievers for starters in times of need.
Joe Frisaro wrote on MLB.com, the Marlins had their share of decisions to make in 2016. Key pitcher will be called upon to help shape a more formidable pitching staff in 2017.
Kyle Barraclough was an unheralded Double-A right-hander in the Cardinals' system. David Phelps started off with the Yankees as a spot starter and long reliever. And A.J. Ramos, the Marlins' 21st-round pick in 2009, beat the odds by becoming an All-Star.
None of the three received much fanfare entering the 2016 season, but they ended up statistically ranking among the top relievers in the Majors. They also serve as a reminder that quality bullpen arms can be discovered in different ways.
What Miami does with its rotation, which means Phelps could still see time in the rotation and late season call-ups Austin Brice and Jake Esch may figure in the opening day “10” so this means the creativity must start now before the end of the year, before free agency begins and spring training, which is three months away.
Phelps may be the key to change and success, possibly like the Cleveland Indians and how they effectively have used their bullpen throughout the 2016 playoffs. His role for next year will be interesting to follow, as he may wind up in the rotation if there is a need, though his maximum value may still be as a reliever. He could even become an option to close, if Ramos doesn't return in that role.
The ability to limit walks could push Phelps over Ramos for the closing nod. Ramos allowed 4.92 walks per nine innings in 2016, compared to Phelps' 4.04.