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January 31, 2008

The Battle For Opening Day

by @ 8:56 am. Filed under 2008 Marlins

The Marlins’ starting pitching could summarize their 2007 season with one simple phrase: “What happened?” Injuries, a lack of consistency, and the surprising drop in Dontrelle Willis’ production ravaged the young Marlins staff. Well, now what?

The Marlins start the 2008 campaign with only one of their pitchers from their 2007 Opening Day rotation, Scott Olsen. Josh Johnson (still recovering from Tommy John surgery) is most likely lost for the ’08 campaign, the D-Train is now pitching in D-Troit, Anibal Sanchez is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum, and Ricky Nolasco may be moved to the bullpen altogether. That leaves the lone starter, Olsen, to compete with new additions Mark Hendrickson, Andrew Miller (acquired in the Willis-Cabrera trade), and mid-season addition to the rotation, Sergio Mitre. While Hendrickson does bring a veteran voice to the staff, and Mitre logging 149 innings last season (3rd on the team), it appears that Olsen is the early favorite to be the starter on Opening Day against the Mets (and possibly the debut of the Mets’ newest stud, Johan Santana.)

A few key question marks for the pitching staff remain: Can Olsen withstand the pressure of not just replacing Willis (he will no longer be called D-Train on this site), but also facing the best pitcher on the opposing staff? Will the Marlins starters be able to log enough innings to keep their bullpen fresh going into the latter part of the season? Is Andrew Miller ready to be a full-time starter in the Majors? How well will this staff react to returning pitching coach, Mark Wiley? These factors are going to be critical to how competitive this young team is going into a campaign where no one, including ownership, is expecting a lot from them.

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