Marlins' success on shoulders of pitching staff

Ziegler, Tazawa among offseason acquisitions to bolster bullpen

Marlins' success on shoulders of pitching staff

With Spring Training fast approaching, will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Marlins squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season.

MIAMI -- Coming up short in their quest for a high-profile closer may end up paying off for the Marlins in the long run because it prompted the organization to pursue its Plan B.

After missing out on free agents Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, Miami went with a more moderate-spending route, and the club had the flexibility to address the bullpen, rotation and backup catcher.

Across the Majors, goals set for 2017

On the surface, the Marlins' offseason lacked a big splash signing, such as Chapman or Jansen, or trade, for an ace like Chris Sale, but overall, a number of veterans were added to strengthen the entire roster.

The primary mission was to acquire durable starters and established relievers.

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For the plan to fall perfectly into place, the 2017 Marlins will need some good fortune. Foremost, their position players must stay healthy because there is a lack of organizational depth to sustain major injuries.

But there is plenty of pitching depth to make things interesting, and the hope is that the rotation will log enough quality innings, so a deep bullpen can handle the rest.

"As we've said all offseason, we've been looking at ways to shorten the game," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "I think whomever the players are who aren't a part of that starting rotation will still pitch valuable innings for us because they represent bridges to get to the back of our 'pen."

There will be plenty of competition when Spring Training begins for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla.

It will be the first chance to see the club's new additions, which include relievers Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa, along with starting candidates Edinson Volquez, Jeff Locke and Dan Straily.

Backup catcher A.J. Ellis was another significant free-agent pickup.

The Marlins closed out 2016 under tragic circumstances, with the organization grieving the loss of All-Star right-hander Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident.

Knowing they couldn't replace all that Fernandez meant to the organization, the front office decided to add to a strength, which was its bullpen.

In 2016, the Marlins topped the Majors in save opportunities with 84, which was 10 more than the next closest team, Seattle.

Ramos' 40th save

They converted 55 chances, which was tied for second in the Majors behind the Rangers' 56. But Miami was unable to convert 29 chances, and the team finished 79-82.

By adding more bullpen depth, the Marlins feel they have at least 10 relievers in the organization capable of making an impact in 2017.

Ideally, the organization will hope for the starters to keep the club in the game so that the bullpen can lock down the late innings.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for 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.