When Henderson Alvarez was on the disabled list, it wasn't an issue. But now that Alvarez is healthy, Miami Marlins Manager Mike Redmond will have to decide who will serve as the team's fifth starter moving forward.
Both Brad Penny and Brad Hand made starts for the Marlins in Alvarez's absence, and Redmond noted he will choose between the two before next Sunday in Colorado, when the Marlins will need a fifth arm. Off days on Monday and Thursday give Redmond time to make a decision.
Asked what will weigh into the decision all things being equal, Redmond said: "Probably just a feel thing I guess. It gives us a couple of days to think about it. I was hoping for one of them really to make it a clear and easy decision. It hasn't been. Do we want to go with a guy who has the experience or the young guy? That'll be my decision."
While no longer in rebuilding mode, the Marlins have made it clear they won't favor a player with more experience. Penny has pitched for teams trying to make a playoff push, however Hand pitched well for most of July and into August.
Both will reportedly be available out of the bullpen, and if a Marlins starter struggles at some point this week, Redmond may not have to choose at all.
In ten innings with Miami since being promoted from Triple-A, Penny has posted a 4.50 ERA and 5.33 FIP. He has pitched five innings in each of his first two starts, and has at times had difficulty finding the strike zone (seven walks).
Hand gives the Marlins a left-handed option in the rotation, and pitched well against the Diamondbacks on Friday night. After allowing three runs in the first, Hand kept Arizona off the board over the next six frames.
Before his weekend outing against the Diamondbacks, Hand struggled in Cincinnati, allowing seven runs over four and two third innings.
Hand is out of options, although if he is not starting would be moved to the bullpen moving forward. Penny also has experience serving as a long relief option, which may make Hand, who has not fared well working as a reliever, a favorite to remain a starter.
Miami has a significant amount of starting pitching depth, with Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani, and Brian Flynn having all started for the Marlins this year. With no desire to use a six-man rotation, Redmond will have to make a decision based on previous outings and season statistics.