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3 questions surrounding the Marlins in 2017

Most questions about the Marlins probably relate to pitching.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2017 is here, which means it’s January, which means we are fairly close to baseball. We’re also halfway through baseball’s offseason, so let’s take a look at three questions surrounding the Marlins this year.

  1. How will the rotation perform?

Though the unit was plagued by injuries throughout 2016, it’s no secret the Marlins had one of the better rotations in the National League last season. Miami’s starting staff collectively posted a 4.32 ERA, which ranked sixth in the N.L. However, that was with Jose Fernandez.

2017 will very much be a rebuilding year for Miami’s starting rotation, which lacks a clear ace. If the season were to start tomorrow, Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen, Edinson Volquez, Jeff Locke and Tom Koehler would likely be pitching every fifth day. But there is still time for the Marlins to add more depth.

Conley and Koehler would be the only constants on such a staff, because Chen was plagued by injuries last season, Volquez struggled and Locke was inconsistent. Still, this might be the best case scenario for a roster that lacks a top front-end of the rotation arm.

The Marlins seemingly have low expectations for their starting staff, opening the offseason with the goal of building what they’re deeming a “super bullpen.” If Miami wants to compete consistently next season, though, a “super bullpen” alone won’t do much good.

2. The Marlins built a “super bullpen.” Will it perform like one?

Because of the comparably week free agent starting pitching class, the Marlins made it a goal to improve the back-end of their bullpen. Though they didn’t land top targets Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, they were still able to improve Don Mattingly’s relief core.

Miami signed Janichi Tazawa and Brad Ziegler to two-year deals, providing depth to a bullpen that already features A.J. Ramos, David Phelps and Kyle Barraclough. The Marlins have plenty of options to turn to, but they will only be effective if not overused. For that to be the case, the starters need to pitch deep into games.

3. What kind of production will the Marlins receive at shortstop?

The Marlins lineup features several productive power and line-drive hitters, and as a result, there hasn’t been much emphasis on Adeiny Hechavarria’s offensive struggles last season.

Hechavarria, 27, batted .236/.283/.311 with three home runs and 38 RBIs last season. That came a year after he hit .281 over 130 games in Miami.

Hechavarria will likely remain in the eight spot in the lineup next season, but for the Marlins to have success, he needs to produce in the bottom of the order.