The Marlins Are Starting 2024 at an Automatic Disadvantage

Thanks to a seemingly endless string of injuries to their starting rotation, the Marlins are starting 2024 at an automatic disadvantage.

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Jesus Luzardo #44 of the Miami Marlins warms up prior to a spring training game against the Houston Astros at Roger Dean Stadium on March 12, 2024 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Last year, the Miami Marlins surprised many by finishing above .500 for the first time (in a non-COVID-shortened season) since all the way back in 2009.

The team took a rather significant step forward from the year prior that ended in a 93-loss showing. Skip Schumaker, who won the 2023 NL Manager of the Year, worked wonders in turning things around for the Marlins rather quickly and has momentum on his side entering year two.

Heading into the 2024 campaign, Tim Anderson and Christian Bethancourt were added to an already-promising starting lineup, with players like Vidal Brujan and Nick Gordon brought aboard as bench pieces.

The Marlins’ lineup figures to be improved thanks to another year of Luis Arraez, a healthy Jazz Chisholm Jr. and full seasons from Josh Bell and Jake Burger.

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It wasn’t so long ago that the club’s shortstop situation was the biggest question mark heading into this season. With Anderson on hand, things have changed.

Now, it’s the Marlins’ starting rotation that’s kicking off the year on the wrong foot. With a total of four different starters set to begin the year on the injured list, it appears that the Marlins will be beginning 2024 at an automatic disadvantage.

The Marlins are going to need all the help they can get in the National League East. The Mets and Phillies both look primed for a run to the postseason and the Braves will likely be the best team in the NL this season. Being bit by the injury bug this early could put Miami into a hole that they can’t dig themselves out of.

Injuries Running Rampant in Marlins Rotation

Sandy Alcantara, the undisputed ace of the Marlins, underwent Tommy John surgery in Oct. of 2023 and is going to miss all of this season. The 2022 NL Cy Young Award winner will be sorely missed, as he is one of the best pitchers in the league when he’s on.

Left-hander Braxton Garrett went down last month with shoulder soreness. The 26-year-old had the inside track to a spot at the back of the rotation before he was placed on the IL.

Earlier this month,’s Christina De Nicola reported that Garrett’s shoulder felt great, but he’d just take a while to get prepared for game action. Like Alcantara, he is not going to be available on Opening Day.

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There’s also Eury Perez, a 6-foot-8 right-hander who seems well on his way to becoming a long-term cog for this rotation. He has been battling through a broken fingernail and shoulder soreness but will reportedly not need surgery. According to Kevin Barral of Fish on First, Perez is going to attempt to rehab his elbow without opting for surgery.

All signs are pointing to Perez also missing Opening Day, as Barral notes he’ll aim to rejoin the Marlins’ rotation “later in 2024.”

Then there’s Edward Cabrera, who is dealing with a right shoulder impingement. Cabrera has not been confirmed as “out” for Opening Day, but we’re just a few days away from the regular season opener and he also hasn’t been confirmed as healthy.

Pitching Depth Pushed to the Limit

Jesus Luzardo will function as the Marlins’ staff ace in Alcantara’s absence. The left-hander will be the Opening Day starter and carry sky-high expectations as the regular season marches on. Last season, Luzardo made 32 starts for the first time in his career and had a 3.58 ERA and 125 ERA+.

Losing Luzardo would be a killing blow for the Marlins. He will enter the year as one of the lone bright spots in this rotation.

Behind him, Miami has been forced to pull out all of the stops.

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A.J. Puk, a career-long reliever, has made the starting rotation. Puk, 28, was developed as a starting pitcher but has exclusively came out of the bullpen in 142 big league appearances. He has frequently stated that his preference is to start, but it’s unclear how his arm will hold up throughout a full season of a starter’s workload.

To Puk’s credit, he has looked phenomenal this spring. In four starts, he has struck out 23 batters and walked only four in 13.2 innings of work, posting an ERA of 1.32 along the way. Encouraging numbers, but we’ll see how the regular season shakes out.

Ryan Weathers and Trevor Rogers are also likely beginning the year in the rotation. Weathers, 24, is a former prized prospect in the Padres system but has failed to capitalize on big league opportunities over the past three years.

In 46 big league outings (31 starts), Weathers sports a 5.88 ERA with over 10 hits per nine innings and nearly 2 home runs per nine. He’s not exactly the dream scenario of a No. 3 or No. 4 starter for the Marlins, but like Puk, he’s looked good during spring training.

Rogers, 26, has battled through a ton of injuries over the past few years and has seen his shine fade a bit. The left-hander made just four starts last season before a biceps strain shut him down. He’s shown promise, but like Weathers and even Puk, is a bit of a question mark.

No. 3 Marlins prospect Max Meyer has made the Opening Day roster and will likely round out the starting-five. Meyer, 25, has had his development slowed significantly by injuries (most recently Tommy John surgery), but he’s consistently shown sky-high potential during his ascent to the big leagues.

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Solid Springs Do Not Guarantee Regular Season Success

It’s nice to see the likes of Puk and Weathers succeeding in spring and earning their way into the starting rotation. However, we all know how finicky spring stats can be. Often times, they don’t quite translate once the regular season kicks off.

The fact of the matter is that the Marlins are in a bad spot with their pitching. There’s a ton of depth down in the minors, but it’s a group largely made up of aging veterans who are far from sure things in their own rights.

Vladimir Gutierrez, Yonny Chirinos, Devin Smeltzer, Matt Andriese, Paul Campbell and Kyle Tyler are the most experienced of the bunch.

Of that group, only Chirinos has ever found sustained success in the big leagues. Even in his case, the last above-average season he had in the majors came back in 2019.

George Soriano and Sixto Sanchez have both started games in the past, but neither are built up for a starter’s workload. Sanchez in particular hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since all the way back in 2020. While his comeback story is a great one to root for, he won’t be starting any games for the club, at least not right away.

What External Options Are Available?

There are still a handful of decent starting options available on the free agent market, but they all come with their fair share of warts.

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The biggest name available, Jordan Montgomery, is seeking a long-term contract that would likely be a bit too expensive for the Marlins, who are 27th in total payroll this year.

Cheaper, more realistic options include the likes of Mike Clevinger, Johnny Cueto, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Greinke. See anyone you like?

Of this quartet, Clevinger is the best of the bunch. Last year, he made 24 starts for the White Sox and returned to form. In his first full season since 2019, the right-hander went 9-9 with a 3.77 ERA, 4.28 FIP and 118 ERA+. Since he’s on the market so late in the game, Clevinger could easily be had on a one-year deal.

If an external move is made, it’s going to need to be for a right-handed pitcher. Since 4/5 of the current rotation is a southpaw, Rich Hill, Matthew Boyd and even Montgomery should be crossed off the list of potential saviors.

Closing Thoughts

There may not be a “right answer” for how to address the Marlins’ rotation to kick off the year. However, one thing is clear: something is going to need to be done if there’s any hope of hanging with the big boys in the division.

The Braves, Mets and Phillies are once again going to engage in an all-out brawl to win the NL East. This leaves the Marlins and the rebuilding Nationals on the outside looking in.

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Again, Miami finished above .500 and shocked the world last season, so if there’s any hope of them repeating this and continuing their feel-good underdog story, roster holes need to be addressed and the starting rotation should be first on the list.