March 25-- Three days before their season opener, the Miami Marlins have parted ways with Dan Straily.
On Monday morning, the team announced the release of the 30-year-old starting pitcher.
With the move, the Marlins are jumping head-first into the future with their arsenal of young arms. Miami had an intense pitching competition throughout camp, highlighted by their four second-year starters.
While the Marlins quickly named Jose Urena the Opening Day starter early in camp, the team remained mum on the rest of the rotation. Coming off their rookie seasons, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith were all sharp and showcased impressive growth.
With seven players competing for the starting job, including Wei-Yin Chen, the question was how the team would handle the rotation-and whether some players would start the year in the bullpen or the minors.
After moving Chen to the bullpen on Sunday, Straily's release opened the door for a young rotation. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said those five pitchers will form the starting rotation this season.
"We talked about competition and taking the best 25 south with us (to Miami)," Hill said. "We had seven (starting pitchers) competing going into spring and the competition did not disappoint.
"We saw the growth of Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez and Sandy Alcantara-these guys came ready to make the team. Caleb Smith was recovering from (shoulder) injury, but everything was great with his recovery. We just wanted to monitor and make sure that he was getting the workload that he needed to be sharp and to help us as we approached Opening Day."
Acquired from the Reds before the 2017 season, Straily spent two years with the team, posting a 4.20 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 56 starts. Last season, the right-hander was limited to 23 starts as he dealt with injuries, spending two stints on the disabled list with a forearm and oblique strains. For the season, he recorded a 4.12 ERA in 122 1/3 innings.
The veteran struggled throughout spring training, posting a 5.94 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, .302 opposing batting average with six home runs allowed in five starts. A second-year arbitration player, Straily was due to earn $5 million after making $3.38 million last season.
In making the decision, Hill also praised the growth of its minor league pitching depth, specifically Zac Gallen, Nick Neidert and Jorge Guzman. Gallen pitched five innings in the Grapefruit League finale, allowing one run on two hits, while striking out seven. Gallen and Neidert will start the season in Triple-A New Orleans and will likely be the first call-ups should the Marlins rotation spot open up later in the season. Guzman will begin the year in Double-A Jacksonville.
That newfound depth stands in stark contrast it where it was just 18 months prior. After taking over, the Marlins' new ownership group placed an emphasis on rebuilding its depleted farm system. Since that time, the system has jumped from dead last (30th) to 13th, per Baseball America.
"That's where you talk about the depth we've been able to accumulate," Hill said. "When you see Zac, you saw what we know-that this is a young pitcher who is continuing to get better and will help us at the major league level.
"That's what our goal is-to have layers of starting pitching and to have guys who are ready."
In addition to the rotation, Miami has solidified its Opening Day bullpen. The Marlins will carry eight relievers-Adam Conley, Drew Steckenrider, Tayron Guerrero, Sergio Romo, Wei-Yin Chen, Austin Brice, Tyler Kinley and Nick Anderson.
Riley Ferrell, a Rule 5 selection from the Houston Astros, was slotted to open the season on the roster, but will likely start the season on the injured list with bicep tendinitis.
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