MLB Miami Marlins

5 Miami Marlins Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

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Miami Marlins Storylines to Follow During Spring Training

Miami Marlins
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins are looking to rebound from one of the worst seasons in franchise history. It was just their second 100 loss season and for the fourth consecutive year they finished with a worse record than the season before. Last year, Spring Training was filled with a mix of aging veterans trying to extend their careers and young prospects trying to make a mark.

Going into Spring Training, the projected starting rotation was going to be Ricky Nolasco, Nate Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, Henderson Alvarez and Wade LeBlanc. Injuries to Eovaldi and Alvarez as well as ineffectiveness of Turner caused a major shift. Nolasco was joined by LeBlanc, Kevin Slowley, Alex Sanabia and phenom Jose Fernandez. Fernandez was not expected to make his debut until the end of May so they could push back his clock, but management decided to start the season with him on the roster. Fernandez ended up winning rookie of the year and pitching in the MLB All-Star game. He goes into the 2014 season as the undoubted ace and hopefully won't have a pitch restriction that forces him to get shut down in early September again. 

Going into Spring Training last year, only Giancarlo Stanton was guaranteed a position in the outfield. The last two spots were up for grabs between Justin Ruggiano, Juan Pierre and Chris Coghlan. The three of them ended up in a platoon for the first half of the season until youngsters like Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick came up and ended up starting the majority of the games. Outfield is not a question mark this year as the team is set with Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton to begin the year.

One question that the Marlins always have is the bullpen heading into the season. They always have one or two spots open in case a young player steps up and wins a spot or a veteran earns a job. Over the last couple season pitchers like Chad Qualls, Chad Gaudin and Jon Rauch all pitched well enough in Spring Training to make the opening day roster. This season will be no different as there are a couple spots open in the bullpen.

Every team has questions to answer and storylines to follow heading into Spring Training. That is what makes it such an interesting month and the Marlins are no different. These are the five most important storylines they have going into 2014.

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5. Who Will Claim the Last Two Bullpen Spots?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins have two or three bullpen spots open heading into spring training. Steve Cishek will be the closer and Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos are guaranteed to make it. Newly acquired Carter Capps and lefty Dan Jennings are probably going to make the roster as well. The two spots could be filled with youngsters already on the 40 man roster, like Arquimedes Caminero, Edgar Olmos, Chris Hatcher or Sam Dyson. There are also non-roster invitees, like hard throwing Henry Rodriguez and lefty Josh Spence who could impress and make the team.

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4. Will the Veteran Free Agents Make an Impact?

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins got very little production from their entire infield last year. Only short stop Adeiny Hechavarria will return as a starter because they signed veterans at all other positions. Casey McGehee, Rafael Furcal, Garrett Jones and Jarred Saltalamacchia will all likely be the other infield starters. McGehee played in Japan last season, Furcal missed the year with Tommy John surgery and Jones lost his starting job because of ineffectiveness. In order for the team to be successful, the Marlins will need production from all of them.

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3. Who Will Win the Last Two Spots in the Rotation?

Starting Rotation
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Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez will be the first three starters in the rotation. Spots No. 4 and 5 will start off in the hands of Jacob Turner and Tom Koehler, but neither have a tight grip on their spot. Kevin Slowey, Andrew Heaney, Brad Hand and Brian Flynn all have chances of cracking the rotation on opening day.

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2. Will Jeffrey Loria let Mike Hill do his Job?

Mike Hill
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Marlins restructured their front office by firing Larry Beinfest and promoting Mike Hill to President of Baseball Operations. Owner Jeffrey Loria has always interfered with personnel decisions and it will be interesting to see if things will change.

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1. Can Giancarlo Stanton Stay Healthy?

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has yet to put together a full season in the majors. Every year he has injuries to his legs which forces him to miss time and interrupts his year. If he can give them 155 games it is possible that he will win the National League home run title and force their hand next offseason.