Miami Marlins hopeful Brad Hand can pitch well in five spot

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins slotted Brad Hand into the rotation to start against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night, and are hopeful he can pitch well enough to remain in the rotation moving forward.

Anthony DeSclafani couldn't capitalize on his second opportunity, but the Miami Marlins are hopeful Brad Hand can return from the disabled list and thrive.

After alternating bullpen arms to keep relievers fresh throughout the weekend and start of the week, Miami activated Hand on Wednesday following six minor league starts. DeSclafani struggled before getting hurt against Oakland, leaving the Marlins without a fifth starter.

Back with the team on Wednesday following six minor league starts on rehab assignment, the left-hander will start Thursday in the final home game for the Marlins before a nine-game road trip precedes the All-Star break.

How long Hand remains in the rotation, manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday, "really is up to him."

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Hand has pitched to an 0-1 record to complement a 6.38 ERA and 5.60 FIP in 24 major league innings, and opened the season as Miami's long reliever. Jacob Turner has since been given that role, leaving Hand with limited options.

While Turner was on the disabled list early in the year, Hand made a pair of starts during which he posted an ERA over 11 and couldn't make it past the fourth inning in either outing.

Manager Mike Redmond remains confident despite Hand's past, noting the success he had on his rehab assignment.

He did pitch well, though, during his rehab assignment going 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts with 22 strikeouts and nine walks for Triple A New Orleans.

"It was nice to go down there, get some innings in and make everything comfortable again," said Hand, who in 17 career big league starts is 1-11 with a 5.38 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 47 walks. "When you're a starter you're on a routine. You get a feel for certain pitches. This [season] was the first time I threw out of the bullpen. There's a learning period."

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Pitching out of the bullpen does create a different routine, and Hand was regarded as a solid back of the rotation option as he worked his way through the Marlins' minor league system.

With the inconsistencies of the starting rotation since Jose Fernandez went down, Hand pitching well would be a plus for the Marlins. The addition of Hand also gives the Marlins a necessary split rotation, with he and Andrew Heaney both being lefty arms.

Miami hasn't wasted any time when it comes to fixing the starting rotation, and if Hand struggles, despite the fact he is out of options, it may not take long for him to be replaced. Brian Flynn or even Sam Dyson could get a look if Hand can't capitalize on the opportunity.

Looking to gain ground within the division before the All-Star break, the Marlins giving Hand a chance is a safe move. But if it doesn't work, the Marlins may look to add a back of the rotation arm before the end of the month.

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