When he has been healthy, the Marlins have been quick to announce Jose Fernandez would be the team's Opening Day starter.
Last season, he was still in the process of returning from Tommy John surgery, which forced the Marlins to consider other options. Fernandez is currently healthy, but the club has opted to turn to Wei-Yin Chen on April 5 against the Tigers, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
The decision will minimally impact the rest of the Marlins rotation but could significantly affect Fernandez long-term.
Miami rightfully opting to 'protect' Fernandez's arm
Fernandez is known for being one of the game's best young pitchers, and the club is taking the steps necessary to ensure its ace remains healthy this season.
After returning from surgery, Fernandez was plagued by a shoulder injury. He must remain healthy for the Marlins to be competitive. The Marlins are aware of that.
By having Fernandez pitch the second game of the season, the Marlins will likely have more control over his starts as the season progresses. If the Marlins are in a position to earn a playoff spot, Fernandez will be closely monitored. Allowing him to take the mound after Chen should give the Marlins more flexibility.
Bullpen should not be overworked early
Chen has proven to be a durable starter throughout the course of his career, which is likely why the Marlins decided to add him to their rotation.
Regardless of the order in which Fernandez and Chen pitch, the bullpen should not be taxed when either takes the mound.
However, should Chen falter in the opener, the Marlins are likely to get a quality start out of Fernandez. That ensures Miami will not have to turn the bullpen early in the season if Chen cannot toss five or six innings.
What it means for the rest of the rotation
The club's decision should not have much of an effect on the rest of the rotation. Two of the final three spots are open, but it appears Adam Conley and Jarred Cosart will earn them.
Tom Koehler should prove to be a valuable No. 3 starting option.
Just for ticket sales?
Miami's second game of the season is a Wednesday afternoon contest.
With Fernandez on the mound, the Marlins can expect a large turnout. But the decision unlikely has everything to do with ticket sales.