Notebook: Three Marlins battling to join spring’s best rotation
JUPITER, Fla. — Marlins manager Mike Redmond knows his ballclub will go as far as its rotation takes it.
Miami pitchers have posted a collective 3.04 ERA, best in the majors, so far this spring.
Starting right-handers Jose Fernandez (0.93), Nathan Eovaldi (1.13), Henderson Alvarez (1.69) and Jacob Turner (4.32) are locks for the rotation, but the fifth spot has yet to see a frontrunner.
The three candidates have had solid springs.
Incumbent Tom Koehler, who went 5-10 with a 4.41 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) in his first big-league season, has posted a 0.75 ERA in four outings. Lefty Brad Hand no-hit the Yankees over five innings in Panama to drop his ERA to 0.75. Non-roster invitee Kevin Slowey won the job last year and has a 1.86 ERA in three appearances.
"I think we’re close, but pitching always goes right down to the last couple days," Redmond said. "There’s going to be some tough decisions out there and guys battling. I think we feel pretty good what guys can do, but it seems like most of the time those decisions are made for you.
"It’s going to be interesting these next couple weeks to see how guys deal with a little bit of pressure. As a catcher I like to see those guys with a lot at stake and see how they pitch and handle it."
PLAYERS ON THE MEND
Rafael Furcal (hamstring) hit and did some running drills under the supervision of head athletic trainer Sean Cunningham and strength and conditioning coach Ty Hill Tuesday morning.
Furcal exited Saturday’s game after re-aggravating his injury in the third inning.
"He’s progressing," Redmond said.
Greg Dobbs (quads, lower back) continues to be day-to-day. His last Grapefruit League game came March 11.
"I wouldn’t expect Dobbs to be too much longer, but we’ll see," Redmond said.
Ed Lucas (hamstring) will play in a minor-league game Thursday to get some at-bats.
"He’ll probably be the first one of that group to start playing," Redmond said.
TURNER GETTING STRONGER
Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner bounced back from a shaky start to cruise through his fourth spring outing on Tuesday afternoon in an 8-1 win over the Houston Astros at Roger Dean Stadium.
Turner allowed a run on two hits — both singles — over five innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
"My arm feels good," said Turner, who threw 69 pitches (46 strikes). "It’s been a while since my arm felt this good in spring training. My mechanics are underneath me, my legs are underneath me."
In the first, Turner walked Jonathan Villar with one out and threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Marc Krauss followed with a sharp single to right that put runners on the corners before Chris Carter produced a sacrifice fly to center.
Including Carter’s flyout, Turner went on to retire the next seven batters in order. No other baserunner reached second base.
Turner said he threw his changeup more, something he should’ve done last season. He called it the hardest pitch for a hitter to see if thrown at the same arm slot and speed.
"It’s nice to feel that way in spring training and progress how I kind of want to," Turner said. "Getting more offspeed (pitches) over today, especially the changeup. That’s going to be a big pitch for me this season."
With the outing, Turner dropped his ERA to 3.38. He has looked like a different pitcher compared with the one who struggled last spring.
In 2013, the 22-year-old went 0-3 with a 9.69 ERA in four starts before being demoted to the minors. Heading into that spring training he was expected to begin the season in the big leagues.
"I think I learned a lot about myself last year as a pitcher, so sometimes you need to be terrible for a little bit to learn what you need to do to be successful," Turner said. "It sucks at the time, but it’s something you go through."
— Miami’s pitching schedule for the rest of the week will be as follows: Koehler (Wednesday), Hand (Wednesday), Fernandez (Thursday), Eovaldi (Friday), Slowey (Saturday in Viera) and Alvarez (Saturday in Jupiter).
Koehler will pitch between six-seven innings of a minor-league game, while Hand will come in for an inning of relief.
— Wednesday marks the only off day of the spring for the Marlins.
"After the day off we’ll be gearing up for Opening Day," Redmond said.