Among the ruins of another lost season, there are a few bright spots appearing in Miami. Two of them are Justin Nicolino and Kendry Flores, rookie pitchers who have been granted playing time with the Marlins this season. Last night against Boston, Nicolino nearly threw a quality start and Flores threw 1.1 innings of no-hit baseball.
Given a chance to prove themselves, the 23-year-olds are showing promising signs of a successful future with the Fish. Nicolino, Miami's number three prospect, has shown both poise and command as a starter for the big league club, and he could be the permanent left-handed rotation piece the Fish have been looking for since the departure of Mark Buehrle. He does not boast a high strikeout rate, but Nicolino can find other ways to be effective.
Even though Flores has only pitched 6.1 innings in the majors, he has improved with every outing as his nerves have appeared to settle. Flores is arguably less polished than Nicolino, but he has actually had more success at Triple-A this season which may indicate that he is starting to reach his potential. With Flores being the Marlins' number six prospect, these two young arms represent the future of this organization.
Due to the long list of injuries to the starting rotation this season, adding starting pitching depth is Miami's off season priority. Therefore, if the Fish add free agent starters into the mix, the two aforementioned rookies will serve as the much-needed depth that the team appeared to lack earlier on this season.
If the Marlins do not consider spending this winter, they will be out-bid for the top starters and Nicolino and Flores might be among the best options the team has to toe the rubber. It is vital that the club hangs onto these two pitchers and doesn't ship them off in a trade, like they did with Andrew Heaney and Anthony DeSclafani nearly a year ago.
With Miami's top two majors-ready arms gone, no one was able to successfully step up when the likes of Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos were injured this year, and it led to the team's downfall. The organization has to retain its depth if it wants to succeed in 2016.
With the early success of these two rookies, the Marlins may have found something that they desperately needed: depth. Sprinkle in one or two high-quality starting pitchers via free agency and the Marlins will enjoy a lot more success next year.