The Marlins were expecting to have to utilize some of their depth at some point in 2015, but that time may have come sooner than they thought it would. With Henderson Alvarez placed on the disabled list on Monday afternoon, the Marlins will likely slot David Phelps into their starting rotation. But with their ace out, Miami will also rely on Brad Hand pitching out of the bullpen.
Alvarez had success in his first start against Atlanta last Monday, however the Marlins were concerned about a potential shoulder injury. According to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, an MRI did not reveal any structural damage, although Alvarez is suffering from right-shoulder inflammation. Alvarez last pitched against the Rays on Sunday afternoon, tossing 5.2 innings in an 8-5 Tampa Bay victory.
Miami was confident in its starting depth, even without Jose Fernandez, heading into the season. Fernandez is expected to return in June or July, with Alvarez serving as the ace of the staff until he returns. Now without its top two pitchers, the Marlins will have to depend on Phelps, who was acquired in the Martin Prado deal with the Yankees.
Phelps posted a 4.38 ERA and 4.41 FIP in 113.0 innings with the Yankees last season. He has been used as both a starter and a reliever in his career, and Hand could also see time in the rotation at some point in Alvarez's absence. Alvarez was placed on the 15-day disabled list, and the Marlins are hoping he can be healthy within two weeks.
Phelps was placed on the paternity list Monday, but will start against the Mets on Friday.
Although the club will be without two of its top pitchers, the injury gives the Marlins an opportunity to add another reliever. Carter Capps was recalled from New Orleans and will join a bullpen that has had an inconsistent start to the 2015 campaign. With the exception of Mat Latos' short outing last Tuesday night, the Marlins' rotation was efficient during the first homestand of the season. The lineup had difficulty producing consistently, and the bullpen could not hold a large lead on Friday.
Don Kelly and Jeff Mathis were also placed on the disabled list, with Reid Brignac and J.T. Realmuto also joining the Marlins.
Alvarez has emerged as a quality second starter, and the Marlins are hoping Phelps and Hand can produce in his absence. With both Alvarez and Fernandez out, Miami's minor league pitching depth becomes limited.