Miami went out of its way to upgrade its starting rotation this offseason, hoping to remain relevant in the temporary absence of Jose Fernandez. Sports on Earth released its top ten rotations in part of its preseason top ten series, and the site gives the Marlins' rotation an honorable mention, with the club not being mentioned in the top 15.
The Giants (Madison Bumgarner), Marlins (Jose Fernandez, once healthy), Cubs (Jon Lester) and Phillies (Cole Hamels, for now) have some of the game's more noteworthy No. 1s, of course, and I feel bad leaving off the Royals, who still have the pieces to put together a strong rotation without Shields.
Although injuries and other setbacks are possible, the Marlins are expected to break camp with Mat Latos, Henderson Alvarez, Jarred Cosart, Dan Haren, and Tom Koehler as the primary starting pitchers. David Phelps and Brad Hand could also see time in a starting role this spring, and one of the two could serve as a long relief option out of the bullpen.
While the Marlins' rotation was comparatively solid in 2014, the club is still seeking better production. However, the Marlins upgraded by adding Haren and Latos, and as a result, should remain competitive throughout the course of the regular season. Ultimately, the Marlins' offseason moves with regard to the starting rotation prove they are not willing to rush Jose Fernandez back to a major league mound. Finding productive and cost effective arms until Fernandez returns was key, and Latos and Haren add a notable amount of experience, with Alvarez improving over the last few seasons.
Adding James Shields would have improved the starting staff, although the Marlins should have enough depth to win consistently without him. Both the Nationals and Dodgers upgraded their respective starting staffs significantly, with the Mariners, Padres, and Indians also making notable moves. The Marlins and Mets should compete with the Nationals in 2015, but New York's starting crew was ranked fifth, with Zack Wheeler hoping to contribute and be healthy in the second half of the season.
Atlanta is ranked tenth despite the fact that the club is expected to take a step back in 2015, and the Marlins are going to have to receive quality starts if they hope to compete for a playoff spot.
Last year, Miami's starters combined for 947 1/3 innings. Only the D-backs (937 1/3), Cubs (927) and Rockies (905 1/3) threw fewer. The Marlins also used a franchise-record 13 starters.
Miami has a deep bullpen, but the starting rotation has to be reliable. While the Marlins may not have a top ten rotation, their starters should prove to keep them in games on a daily basis.