Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani are expected to be part of Miami's starting rotation moving forward. But for the two pitching prospects, the opportunity to start will have to wait.
Brad Hand made a spot start on Sunday against the Braves and pitched well, and Brad Penny will pitch Monday's series opener in Milwaukee. With Hand and Penny being slotted into the rotation, Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald noted the Marlins aren't concerned about keeping Heaney and DeSclafani in the bullpen.
"We felt like these guys [Hand and Penny] give us our best chance right now with where they're at and where we're at," manager Mike Redmond said.
Miami's rotation inconsistencies come as a result of Henderson Alvarez's absence following an oblique strain earlier in the week. Alvarez was on target to return to the rotation against the Braves on Sunday.
Hand pitched six scoreless innings in Sunday's 4-0 victory over Atlanta, and has posted a 4.76 ERA and 4.66 FIP in 87 innings pitched. He has seen time both in the rotation and out of the bullpen, but with the exception of a nice July, has been inconsistent in both roles.
While he is most familiar in a starting role, Manager Mike Redmond has found different ways to keep Hand involved because he is out of options. If he can put together several consecutive quality starts, Hand may be a favorite to land a spot in the Marlins' rotation next spring.
Hand has been kept on the major league roster because of his contract situation, but Brad Penny has been praised because he provides a veteran arm in the rotation. Penny has posted a 6.61 ERA and 4.66 FIP in 16.1 innings pitched, but has struggled to limit the damage in big offensive innings.
Although Penny and Hand are experienced options, Miami should want to allow Heaney (6.53 ERA in 20.2 innings) and DeSclafani (7.57 ERA in 27.1 innings) to gain major league experience. Both have had difficulty early in their careers, but will likely be a part of the organization's future.
I have a feeling those guys will be able to find spots to get in whether it's an inning or two or three innings," Redmond said. "It's always nice to have extra bodies down there, guys that can pitch. We'll see as we get farther along where we could utilize those guys the best."
Redmond said the fact Heaney (158 innings) and DeScalafani (129 2/3 innings) have already hit new career highs in innings pitched this season didn't play a factor in the decision.
Redmond said he will find ways for the pair to get their work in, but using young players in a "mop up" type scenario may not be beneficial to their development.
Heaney's pitch limit has been discussed throughout the course of the season, and while the Marlins still have a chance to take a Wild Card spot, Miami may not be willing to extend him through September. DeSclafani could become a bullpen arm, making the Marlins' decision not to place him in the rotation justifiable.
Miami already has one of baseball's younger and more consistent starting rotations. But without Heaney and DeSclafani learning by making mistakes at the major league level, the rotation's ability to become among the best in all of baseball may be prolonged.