Marlins right-hander Jose Urena hasn’t pitched since June 7 on account of a lower back strain, though his season doesn’t look over. Manager Don Mattingly announced Friday that Urena could return in September as the Marlins’ closer, per Craig Mish of FNTSY Radio.
At 45-81, owner of the worst record in the National League, Miami hasn’t had much use for a closer this season. Indeed, the team traded Sergio Romo – by far its saves leader – prior to last month’s deadline. Nevertheless, it’s good news that the 27-year-old Urena, one of the Marlins’ several promising 20-something pitchers, is likely to make it back this season. Urena reportedly generated interest from other clubs prior to landing on the shelf, and if he returns this year and ends the campaign in solid fashion, he could wind up as a winter trade chip for the rebuilding Fish.
Urena entered 2019 as something of a workhorse for Miami, for which he delivered 169 innings or more of sub-4.00 ERA ball in each of the previous two years. He wasn’t as successful this year before his injury, though, as he pitched to a 4.70 ERA/4.59 FIP with 6.15 K/9 against 2.77 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent groundball rate in 74 2/3 frames. But Urena did fire fastballs at an average of nearly 96 mph in that span, and perhaps his above-average velocity will play up in a short relief role.