Midway through Marlins spring training, with most (but possibly not all) of the club’s major transactions completed, let’s make educated guesses about the composition of the Opening Day active roster.
This exercise is slightly different than previous years. Instead of 26, the rosters will be expanded to 28 spots through May 1, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, to “compensate in some way” for the brevity of spring training. Starting pitchers have not had a sufficient runway to get stretched out for their regular workloads. You can expect the Marlins (maybe even all 30 teams) to utilize an initial pitching staff of 14-plus members to mitigate injury risk.
Projection 1.0 is kinda boring—all 28 players have prior major league experience and only one isn’t currently on the Marlins 40-man roster. I’m frankly rooting for some chaos to strike over the next two weeks.
Projected Marlins Position Players (13)
We could be seeing a lot of tweaks throughout the season in the reserve outfielder role. Unless De La Cruz picks up where he left off in 2021, there will be top prospects (JJ Bleday and Peyton Burdick) and traditional speedy center fielders (Delino DeShields and Roman Quinn) challenging him for his spot. It seems unreasonable that any of them would leapfrog DLC on the depth chart right now, though.
If the Marlins feel that 14 pitchers is enough, then DeShields or Quinn can nab the final Opening Day spot as a defensive sub.
Toughest cut: Nick Fortes. In a vacuum, I believe Fortes is a superior player to Jackson. However, Jackson has only one minor league option left—Fortes has three—and he has annihilated Triple-A pitching (42 HR in 150 G at that level). Nothing more for the 26-year-old to gain from MiLB reps. Time to find out just how badly the Marlins got wrecked in the Adam Duvall trade.
Projected Marlins Pitchers (15)
SP1 Sandy Alcantara, SP2 Pablo López, SP3 Trevor Rogers, SP4 Elieser Hernandez, SP5 Jesús Luzardo, RP Anthony Bass, RP Anthony Bender, RP Richard Bleier, RP Dylan Floro, RP Louis Head, RP Nick Neidert, RP Steven Okert, RP Zach Pop, RP Cody Poteet and RP Shawn Armstrong
I wouldn’t necessarily “rank” Miami’s five starting pitchers this way, but that is how they are lined up based on their spring throwing schedules.
Neidert should be especially grateful for this year’s roster expansion. Even though he has fared poorly against big league hitters so far (4.70 ERA, 5.56 FIP, 1.50 WHIP in 44.0 IP), his starter-like stamina will be important in possible piggyback situations during the first couple turns through the rotation.
A non-roster invitee, Armstrong drew interest from more than 20 teams during the offseason, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. For the Marlins to win the bidding for him, I have to think they promised him the inside track to a roster spot or included an early-season opt-out clause in his contract. For what it’s worth, his stuff has looked solid in camp.
Toughest cut: Will Stewart. I observed abnormally high fastball velocity in Stewart’s 2022 Grapefruit League debut, then Craig Mish spotlighted him on Swings and Mishes as a player who Marlins decision-makers have been impressed with. Health permitting, the odds are extremely good that the deceptive southpaw will contribute in the big leagues this season. There’s just not any urgency to squeeze him onto the April 8 pitching staff.