The Miami Marlins may begin next season without a lefty in the starting rotation, which is a rarity, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. In 2013, Kevin Slowey and Wade LeBlanc took turns in the rotation during portions of the year. This year heading into the Spring, there are two lefties in contention for spots in Brad Hand and Brian Flynn, but they are on the outside looking in. The Marlins need to go with their five best options in the rotation regardless of which arm they throw with because that’s the ultimate way to collect wins.
Going into the Grapefruit League, the Marlins will have Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez locked into the top three spots of the rotation. The fourth spot will likely go to Jacob Turner. After that there is going to be a competition for that fifth slot between Tom Koehler, Hand and Flynn. There’s also a possibility that the Marlins bring in some non-roster invitees to compete for the fifth spot as they did with Slowey in 2013. Slowey could even be one of those in contention for the spot again as he does remain in the Marlins’ organization and should be in Jupiter.
Koehler, who handled the fifth spot for a good part of 2013, has a leg up in the competition and should get the gig unless he has a poor spring coupled with an excellent spring from another competitor. There also is the possibility that Koehler makes the team as the long man in the bullpen, a role he thrived in during 2013. One way or another, it is very likely that Koehler will open the year on the 25-man roster. Should he be in the pen, Hand may have the better chance of landing that fifth slot over Flynn, who is less experienced and struggled during his cup of coffee in 2013.
As of now, the Marlins may be leaning towards putting Koehler in the pen just because the tradition is to get a lefty in the rotation. They shouldn’t think that way though, if none of the lefty arms shine in the spring — the fifth slot should go to Koehler regardless of the fact all five starters will be right-handed.