Including Jose Fernandez, the Miami Marlins currently have four starting pitchers on the disabled list. Couple that with a lack of minor league pitching depth after the winter trades and you get trouble. This is the exact spot the Marlins find themselves in this early in the season. They will turn to Brad Hand, primarily a long-reliever this season, to start the final game of a three-game set in Pittsburgh before heading off to New York to face the Mets.
The Fish are currently between a rock and a hard place. They have a new manager, they are laden with injuries and they are eight games behind the second National League Wild Card spot. Miami opened the season with playoff aspirations and now there are already signs of the players giving up before the calendar even flips to June. The young and talented starting rotation was supposed to lead the team to the playoffs for the first time in twelve years, but this hasn't happened. Now, the Fish will rely on Brad Hand to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Pirates.
Aside from his outing in Los Angeles where he gave up five earned runs in two thirds of an inning, Hand has been quite effective this year. He has not started a game yet during the regular season but he impressed while starting and coming out of the bullpen in Spring Training, which is why the Marlins opted to carry an extra pitcher into the 2015 campaign. Hand will be looking to just give Miami some effective innings to give the team a chance to win. Lowering his 5.79 ERA on the season wouldn't be a bad thing either.
Whether this is a spot start by Brad Hand or a solution at the back end of the rotation remains to be seen. Rookie Jose Urena made his first career start in game two of the Pirates series last night, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see fellow prospect Justin Nicolino join him in the majors in the coming weeks. Nicolino is the Marlins' top pitching prospect but could start out in the bullpen to get his feet wet before diving into the deep end. If this is the case, then Brad Hand may make a few more starts, depending on his performance.
Before even thinking about the playoffs, the Marlins need to sort their rotation out. Injuries cannot be helped, but they need to find someone else who can throw the ball effectively and consistently. Is it finally time for Brad Hand to step up and be a feature in the Marlins' rotation?