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The Marlins need someone to eat innings

And naturally, who that someone is, has yet to be determined.

The Marlins don't have to replace Willis' boisterousness. They do need some combination of starters to make up his innings. The pressing question facing the Marlins, as pitchers and catchers take the field for the first time today, is who.

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Willis still took the ball 35 times and totaled 205 innings.

Barring any unexpected personnel moves, the Marlins will open the season without a starter that's eclipsed the 200-inning plateau.

"I don't think any one person is going to account for 'Trelle being gone," left-hander Scott Olsen said. "If five guys collectively can pull through and get a little bit extra, I don't think it's going to be a problem at all."

Maybe Olsen is correct that it won't be a problem, if the starters can go an extra inning or two per start.  And if the Marlins improve on defense that would really help the cause

The onus to gobble up innings will fall primarily to Olsen, Mitre and Mark Hendrickson. The Marlins will err on the side of caution with Andrew Miller and their fifth starter, assuming a Gaby Hernandez or Chris Volstad-type prospect wins the job.

Hopefully, the Marlins won't use Hernandez or Volstad as the fifth starter coming out of spring training.  Both of them have potentially good careers ahead of them as major league pitchers, but they would be better served, career-wise, to stay in the minors.  At least, initially.

The most likely candidate to makeup the loss in innings is Mark Hendrickson.

In 2004, Hendrickson totaled 183 1/3 innings in 32 games (30 starts) for the Rays. This offseason he hired a personal trainer for the first time with an eye toward the 200-mark.

"When Joe Maddon came into Tampa he told the starters, 'You're going deep in to games,'" said Hendrickson, who through 13 starts in 2006 was on pace for a 200-inning season before the Rays traded him to the Dodgers. "I had a couple of complete games and once you get that feeling, you want to do it every time."

I doubt Mitre will be able to throw much over 170 innings, if that.  Olsen could get near the 200 innings mark if the defense will support him.  For Hendrickson, it is the same.  As long as he doesn't have to make extra pitches due to defensive errors, he may be fine at eating innings.

The key is someone or the combination of the three needs to step up and take some of the pressure off the bullpen.