Miami was forced to rely on its starting pitching depth in 2015. But the club does not want to depend on its youthful starters in 2016, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, and that approach should prove to be beneficial moving forward.
Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez were sidelined for most of the season with injuries, and as a result, the Marlins were forced to turn to Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley and Jose Urena. The trio performed well, but Miami consistently said it did not want to rush its young starting pitchers to the major leagues. Perhaps if they had more time in Triple-A, those three would have had more success.
As the season came to end, the Marlins expressed a desire to add starting pitching. Jose Fernandez is expected to be healthy but Alvarez might not be. Miami needs at least one if not a pair of starters to join Fernandez, Cosart and Tom Koehler and appears open to either trading for pitchers or exploring free agent options.
After hiring Don Mattingly, the Marlins made it clear they would not pursue Zack Greinke, David Price or other top arms this winter. As a result, moving Marcell Ozuna and receiving starting pitching in return might be ideal. Doug Fister and Yovani Gallardo could be realistic options. But the Marlins might be better off considering other controllable pitchers who are available.
While Miami's young starters gained valuable experience last season, they would likely benefit from additional time in New Orleans. Having a solid starting rotation and then making Nicolino, Conley and Urena possibilities if one of the five starters were to go down would almost certainly make the Marlins that much better.
Nicolino, 23, was projected as a middle of the rotation arm and can still prove to be that. He pitched to a 4.01 ERA and 4.85 FIP over 74.0 innings with the Marlins and if he earns spot in the 2016 rotation would give Miami a left-handed starter, which they have not a lot of over the last few seasons.
Conley, 25, pitched to a 3.76 ERA and 3.81 FIP over 67.0 innings, and Urena pitched to a 5.25 ERA and 4.64 FIP over 61.2 innings. Both were called upon because the Marlins needed starters and could be starting options in 2017.
Urena, Conley and Nicolino could all compete for a spot in the 2016 rotation, but the Marlins are rightfully considering other experienced options first.