It’s still the most asked question the Miami Marlins have to answer during the Grapefruit League – how many pitchers will this team carry on the opening day roster?
The word down in south Florida is there will be a considerable number of relief pitchers on staff, with the possibility of the team only carrying four bench players. MLB.com writer Joe Frisaro opened up his Inbox this week to answer fan questions, one of which focused on why the team would make a decision like this.
The main reason the team may keep so many arms is to find a spot for Jose Urena, who is out of minor league options. The Marlins do not want to lose the pitcher, who could be picked up by another major league team.
Not wanting to get ahead of themselves, the club is saying Urena is "on the bubble." I'm not buying that. I believe he will be on the team. It's well documented that the right-hander is out of options, and if Urena isn't on the Opening Day roster, he most likely will be grabbed up quickly on waivers. He's young, throws 95 mph and has upside. I don't think Spring Training is necessarily a "tryout" camp for Urena. He's already looked good in at least one outing.
Frisaro said he does believe the team will have 13 pitchers with eight in the bullpen to start the season. A solid bullpen could be the difference in helping this team make the post season.
The Cleveland Indians showed this formula could work last season as the American League team made it to the World Series, falling to the Chicago Cubs.
If the Marlins do use 13 pitchers, there will only be four bats on the bench – Derek Dietrich, Miguel Rojas, AJ Ellis and Ichiro Suzuki.
“If Miami decides to go with a fifth bench player, I believe that could come down to manager Don Mattingly making the call, because he'd be most comfortable with the extra man. But either way, I think Urena will be on the team,” Frisaro said.