The Miami Marlins are mathematically still in the playoff race for the final Wild Card spot, but it is getting exceedingly difficult for them to win the spot. So for the Fish, some thought to the future has to be considered, and it seems Miami is already putting in that thought on some of their young starters whose workloads are being stressed by healthy seasons. The Marlins are monitoring workloads of pitchers like Nathan Eovaldi, Tom Koehler, and Jarred Cosart.
Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and manager Mike Redmond have the luxury of September callups as options to spell the starters.
"We've had this conversation basically this entire road trip," general manager Dan Jennings said. "We've talked about it. We're getting into some uncharted waters now. Chucky has such a great feel for these guys."
As mentioned in the article, the most prominent workload of interest is Nathan Eovaldi's. Eovaldi has reached 30 starts and 180 1/3 innings pitched when his previous career high was 154 1/3 innings combined between the majors and minors in 2012. Last season, Eovaldi had an injury-shortened campaign in which he only threw 127 innings for the year.
Tom Koehler has worked the most innings amid the team's concerning starters. Last year, Koehler worked a career high 166 innings, but he has already reached 179 1/3 innings on the season. Of the three starters listed in the article, it is likely he will need the least intervention, as he has had multiple seasons working over 160 innings.
Jarred Cosart is the Marlins' newest addition, and after last night's six innings, Cosart has reached 169 innings on the season. He too has surpassed a career high, which was previously set last year 153 innings split between Triple-A and the majors.
The Marlins supposedly can conveniently turn to their minor league starters from September call-ups to help out on the workload. Anthony DeSclafani has already worked long relief innings, and he could be turned to in spot starts if the Fish are trying to avoid overworking any of their younger starters. Andrew Heaney, the team's top pitching prospect, is unlikely to see playing time in the majors however. He may be used in long relief, but he is not expected to make any starts because he himself is running up on the Marlins' desired innings limit.
The club wants him to experience the Wild Card chase, and work on some mechanical issues with Hernandez.
"There may be spots where you can maybe work him in to get an inning or two here," Jennings said. "Honestly, if he throws no more innings this year, we're good with his number going into next year. He is where he needs to be. Now, it's getting him around this atmosphere. Let him feel comfortable. Get some one-on-one with Chuck."
Heaney may be in the majors just to work on his mechanics and get time with pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, rather than getting actual innings work against competition.
The Marlins are far enough from the playoff race that considering shutting down a starter because of health concerns, even with ambiguously useful reasoning like innings counts, may be useful. Of the Marlins starters with the most concern, Nathan Eovaldi and Jarred Cosart should be most monitored. The Verducci Effect may not be real, but both of those pitchers are very important to the team's future. If the team has concerns that recent performances from either guy may indicate fatigue, resting them or shutting them down will do no harm to the franchise or player and may help. In addition, injury is more likely to occur on those younger starters (both Eovaldi and Cosart are 24 years old) rather than an older one like Koehler (28 years old).
The Marlins' 2014 season has already been a success. If the team feels their pitchers deserve rest, there is no more reason not to give it to them.