With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Marlins squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the difference?
MIAMI -- Traditional roles may go out the window when it comes to how the Marlins utilize their pitchers. The rotation will be asked to cover the basics, like keeping the team in games and working as many innings as possible. If it can do that, with the way Miami constructed its roster, a deep bullpen should be able to handle the rest.
How best to maximize the staff became the organization's primary focus after Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident on Sept. 25. Without the benefit of a true ace, Miami's front office spent the offseason compiling durable starters and relievers with track records of success.
Spring Training begins on Feb. 14, with pitchers' and catchers' workouts at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla. Full-squad drills get underway on Feb. 17. For now, 63 players are scheduled to attend Spring Training, and there promises to be plenty of competition for pitching spots.
The common bond between all of the new pitchers is that they've been durable and dependable.
The challenge for manager Don Mattingly, pitching coach Juan Nieves and vice president of pitching development Jim Benedict is figuring out how to get the most out of the rotation and a loaded bullpen, which has more depth than the organization may have ever enjoyed.
"It may not be your traditional look," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said, "that your starter goes seven innings, and then he hands it to a setup man in the eighth, and the closer comes in the ninth. There may be situations where the starter is out in the fourth or the fifth, and a bridge guy takes you to the sixth, and then you've got a setup man in the seventh and the eighth and a closer in the ninth."
The Marlins will rely heavily on analytics when it comes to how to best use their pitchers. Their bullpen is very deep, and it features All-Star closer A.J. Ramos, hard-throwing Kyle Barraclough and versatile David Phelps to go with the new additions.
Miami is aware its bullpen can't log substantial innings every night, but the team has an abundance of depth, including several relievers with big league experience who may wind up opening the year at Triple-A New Orleans.
"When you look at how we've put the pitching staff together," Hill said, "we've talked with Donnie and Juan on how we anticipate using those pieces."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.