Miami has had to improvise within the rotation until Henderson Alvarez returns to the mound. But the wait may soon be over.
All-Star right-hander Henderson Alvarez will throw a light bullpen session Tuesday and, barring a setback, will start Friday at Philadelphia.
"He was feeling good. We’re anticipating him to be fine and pitch on Friday," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He’s going to throw another light one to make sure. If everything goes well and he rejoins us on Friday, that would be a big lift for us."
Before going down, Alvarez served as the ace of Miami's starting staff. He has been the Marlins' most consistent starting option since Jose Fernandez had season-ending Tommy John surgery, and his absence has been notable. In 159.1 innings, Alvarez has posted a 2.88 ERA and 3.63 FIP.
Since Alvarez first was injured in August, the Marlins have had difficulty at the back end of the rotation. Brad Hand and Brad Penny have both been slotted into the rotation, and both pitched well in their most recent starts. Manager Mike Redmond made the decision to put Penny and Hand in the rotation over Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani.
If Alvarez does return on Friday, Hand's next start, assuming he remains in the rotation, would be on Saturday. The Marlins have made it clear they do not want to utilize a six man rotation, meaning Penny may be moved back to the bullpen eventually.
The Marlins shouldn't rush things, considering Alvarez will be a key part of the rotation in 2015 , specifically until Fernandez returns. Miami has been rightfully cautious, and should be moving forward.
With Miami still in the playoff conversation, the return of Alvarez will make one of baseball's younger rotations that much better. And with time, Alvarez should only progress and become a better pitcher.