The acquisition of starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego late last week brought some bulk and depth to a Marlins starting rotation that desperately needed it. Cashner slid right into being arguably the second, if not third, best arm in the rotation and Rhea gave the Marlins depth in the back end to fill in for the injured Wei-Yin Chen for the time being.
But that depth lasted less all of 3 1/3 innings before Rea suffered a right elbow injury and was subsequently shipped back to San Diego. With Chen still on the disabled list nursing a right elbow sprain the Marlins have opted to move David Phelps from the bullpen and into the staring rotation this Friday against Colorado, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
Phelps is no stranger to a starting role, compiling 59 starts over his five year career including 19 for the Marlins in 2015. But his start in Colorado on Friday night will be his first of this season.
Phelps has been a key piece of a reliable Miami bullpen. He has logged 54 1/3 innings over 50 appearances while boasting a sound 2.65 ERA and a 2.82 FIP. He served as the eighth inning set-up man for the first half of the season but has mainly had his number called in the seventh since the addition of Fernando Rodney. Kyle Barraclough will likely eat up most of Phelps' late-inning work while he is in the rotation.
It will be interesting to follow how the Marlins manage that fifth spot in the rotation if Chen is sidelined for an extended period of time. Having Phelps in the bullpen makes an already solid back end even deeper, but the emergence of Barraclough makes the loss of Phelps a little easier to swallow. In addition, the Marlins don't have too many other feasible options at this point, with the only other legitimate candidates being Jose Urena and Justin Nicolino. With that said, if Phelps pitches well on Friday night, it wouldn't be surprising to see Don Mattingly continue to roll with him until Chen can return.