The Marlins released veteran reliever Seth McClung this morning, narrowing down the competition for the final bullpen spot to Tim Wood and Rick VandenHurk.
Woody has the experience pitching out of the bullpen working in his favor, but if the Fish decide to convert Hurk to reliever, he could give the team another option in long relief. Seems like Fredi has been hinting at that.
VandenHurk came out of the pen the other day to throw one inning of scoreless relief against the Houston Astros and noticed that his fastball was blazing -- 3 to 4 miles per hour greater than it usually is when he starts. VandenHurk also provides the bullpen with an extra long man to go with Burke Badenhop.
"I think he could be valuable to us in that role, a second long guy, if you want to label him that," Gonzalez said of VandenHurk. "You may see better stuff from him at that (one) inning stint. Usually that's what happens. Starters, you ask them to convert to the bullpen, and their miles per hours go three to four more because they're just coming in blowing. They're not going to come in and try to set the slider with the change-up. They're just going to come in and blow. And we saw that the other day against Houston here."
The final decision on the starting rotation hasn't been announced yet, but VandenHurk won't win the last spot over Hensley, so the bullpen would be Hurk's only chance of making the opening day roster.
Fredi and the Fish have a few days left to figure it out.