As we look back upon the 2013 Marlins season, the team's bullpen was one of the brighter points on an otherwise misty and cold season. While their offense reached apocalyptic proportions, Miami's bullpen pretty much was the main factor (besides the sudden resurgence of the starting rotation) behind the Marlins not being one of the worst teams in the history of Major League Baseball.
While there has been some clear movement on the Marlins roster since Henderson Alvarez threw the last pitch of his no-hitter game in late September, the core of the bullpen has basically stayed in tact. With closer Steve Cishek heading the core, Marlins veterans Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos will look to continue to look to help Miami push closer to the vaunted playoff spot. In addition to the solid trio of relievers, former Cubs All-Star turned potential burnout Carlos Marmol will look to revive his career in Miami.
With those four names in mind, there's still a few positions available in Miami's bullpen. As we move closer to the upcoming 2014 season, a wide array of familiar veterans and up-and-coming prospects are vying for a position on Miami's Opening Day roster.
As mentioned in a recent Sun-Sentinel piece, Miami is looking to fill three different positions in their bullpen: long reliever, lefty specialist and hard-throwing right-handed pitcher.
Despite the continued progression of Adam Conley and Andrew Heaney, veteran Kevin Slowey is the most likely fit for that long relief role as he continues to dominate in Spring Training. Through 4 2/3 innings, Slowey has held his opponents scoreless in two separate games against the Mets.
As we transition to right-handed relievers, Carter Capps is probably one of the bigger favorites alongside Henry Rodriguez. While neither pitcher are at the level of Cishek or Ramos, they fit into that hard-throwing right-handed category that manager Mike Redmond is supposedly looking for. Even though Rodriguez has had an up-and-down career since making his big-league debut in 2009, his fastball still reaches the high-90's to triple digits. As the case for the majority of high-velocity relievers, Rodriguez has had difficulties in terms of controlling his fastball. That issue will need to be rectified if he wants to have a long-term stint with Miami.
Meanwhile, Carter Capps comes to Miami with rather high expectations after being involved in the controversial Logan Morrison deal. Similar to Rodriguez, Capps' main use of attack is an extremely lethal fastball. While that fastball can be effective, it's velocity dramatically decreased from his rookie year (97.8 MPH average) to the 2013 season (95.5 MPH). With that in mind, Capps will need to worry about his control of the strike zone.
Unlike the majority of teams in the league, Miami has a solid variety of left-handed relievers at their disposal. As mentioned in the Sun-Sentinel piece, Miami relievers Brad Hand and Dan Jennings are the odds-on favorites to take control of that left-handed relief spot. While Brad Hand is still vying for that 5th spot in the rotation, both himself and Jennings are definitely solid relief options for the Marlins.