On paper, the Marlins entered the season with one of the best rotations in the National League, led by 2022 unanimous Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara and young lefty Jesús Luzardo. Behind them, Miami had former top prospect Edward Cabrera and 2021 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Trevor Rogers. The club also signed free agent Johnny Cueto to a one-year, $8.5M deal coming off a great year with the White Sox. The Marlins traded Pablo López mainly to get a major offensive upgrade in Luis Arráez, but also because they trusted what they had in their other rotation pieces.
Not even a month into the season, the team is down Cueto (right biceps tightness) and Rogers (left biceps strain).
One of those openings is being capably filled by Braxton Garrett. He enters Saturday’s start with a 3.38 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 13 1⁄3 innings pitched, picking up where he left off last season.
But Miami now needs to figure out what to do with Rogers’ spot. Recent MLB history suggests his biceps strain will keep him out for more than the minimum 15 days.
The replacement options include stretching out a reliever from the active roster like Devin Smeltzer or George Soriano, calling up a starter from the minor leagues, or going outside the organization.
On the latest episode of Fish Stripes Unfiltered, Craig Mish of SportsGrid identified Bryan Hoeing as “probably the next man up” and also mentioned the alternative of using Soriano as an opener.
Posting the highest K/9 of his career, Hoeing has a 2.08 ERA and 2.31 FIP through 17 1⁄3 innings pitched with Triple-A Jacksonville. Hoeing has seen an increase in velocity, averaging 94.0 MPH with the fastball during his last start on Thursday and topping out at 95.2. He will be fully rested by the time Rogers’ spot in the rotation comes up next.
Hoeing isn’t currently on the 40-man roster, but the Marlins could DFA Smeltzer as the corresponding move to make room for him. Smeltzer has allowed 10 runs (eight earned) in five total innings for Miami.
Soriano was called up on April 10 to the big league club, but didn’t make his debut until April 16 when he went three scoreless innings where he struck out two. Soriano is the longest-tenured player in the organization—originally signed as an international free agent in 2015—and in fact, began his career as a starter. He transitioned into a reliever just last season where he has been used in the back end of the Double-A/Triple-A bullpens and high-leverage situations.
George Soriano's 1st career strikeout.— Louis Addeo-Weiss (@addeo_louis00) April 16, 2023
Victim: Corbin Carroll pic.twitter.com/iJj4w7N4hR
Although Soriano has been a starter before and has a plus pitch in his slider, he isn’t able to provide much length at the moment, having maxed out at 38 pitches in a Triple-A appearance earlier this season. It would take several games for him to reach a normal starter’s workload.
Other available AAA arms include Chi Chi González and Jeff Lindgren. Both Daniel Castano and Sixto Sánchez are on the injured list.
Similar to Hoeing, top prospect Eury Pérez pitched five scoreless innings in Double-A on Thursday. Unlike any of the above names, he has the potential to be a star. However, Eury was inconsistent in previous starts dating back to Spring Training and could use more time to develop.
Looking outside the organization, former World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner was recently DFA’d by the Diamondbacks. Since leaving the Giants, Bumgarner has found no success. In 2022, Bumgarner had a 4.88 ERA and 4.85 FIP in 158 2⁄3 innings pitched, and so far in 2023, he has a 10.26 ERA and 8.14 FIP in 16 2⁄3 innings pitched. The Marlins beat him in Miami last week (final line: 5.0 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K). On top of that, Bumgarner is owed more than $34M from now through the end of next season.
Assuming Bumgarner is not claimed, the Marlins can sign him as a free agent and pay him the league minimum. Personally, I think the leash should be very short if that happens—beyond the questions about his production, he has a reputation for being a stubborn personality, which can become a clubhouse issue. By all reports, Miami’s clubhouse culture is in a good place and you don’t want anybody interfering with that.
All in all, the obvious move is to call up Bryan Hoeing and hope that he can hold down a rotation spot until Trevor or Cueto are good to go.
What would you do?
This poll is closed
Call up Bryan Hoeing
Call up a different Marlins minor leaguer
Use George Soriano as an opener
Sign Madison Bumgarner or another FA