The Marlins kicked off Spring Training with a potential injury scare in the rotation, as Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald relays that, per manager Skip Schumaker, southpaw Braxton Garrett is dealing with “general soreness” in his left shoulder. While shoulder injuries are among the more concerning ailments for pitchers, Schumaker made clear that Garrett hasn’t been shut down at this point with the club instead planning to “push back” the start to Garrett’s spring “until he feels better.” McPherson adds that Garrett continued to play catch late last week.
Garrett, 26, has quietly broken out as a quality mid-rotation arm for the Marlins over the past two seasons. In 48 appearances (47 starts) since the start of the 2022 season, Garrett has posted an impressive 3.63 ERA with a nearly-matching 3.64 FIP across 247 2/3 innings of work. During that time, the lefty has struck out a respectable 23.8% of batters faced while walking just 5.1%. The youngster’s strong peripheral numbers are rounded out by his ability to generate grounders, which he has done at an above-average 48.7% clip over the past two years. With Sandy Alcantara set to miss the entire 2024 campaign while rehabbing Tommy John surgery, Garrett figures to slot in toward the front of the Miami rotation this season alongside the likes of Jesus Luzardo and Eury Perez.
With Garrett’s health uncertain entering camp, it’s fair to wonder what impact his status may have on the club’s trade talks regarding members of their rotation. The Marlins have long been known to be listening on their controllable starting pitching in hopes of addressing other areas of their roster, with Luzardo receiving attention from the likes of the Orioles and Dodgers while the Pirates have also reportedly shown interesting in the club’s available rotation arms. While it’s unclear what impact, if any, Garrett’s current shoulder issue would have on his availability in trade, it’s possible the Marlins may be more hesitant to shop any of their starting options until they have more certainty on Garrett’s status. After all, a hypothetical trade of Luzardo would leave the Marlins with only Perez, Edward Cabrera, and Trevor Rogers as surefire starting options entering the 2024 season if Garrett were to require time on the injured list.
More from the NL East…
- The Phillies have long been hoping to extend veteran ace Zack Wheeler, and comments from Wheeler himself last week indicated that the sides have opened extension talks with Spring Training now underway. While Wheeler indicated that he’s open to negotiating even once the season begins, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski indicated to reporters (including Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that while extending Wheeler is a “priority” for the club, his preference is for the sides to come together on a deal before the regular season begins. Wheeler has established himself as one of the league’s premiere starters since first suiting up for the Phillies during the shortened 2020 campaign. During his time in Philadelphia, the right-hander has pitched to an excellent 3.06 ERA with a 2.90 FIP in 101 starts during the regular season and has augmented that resume with an incredible 2.42 ERA in 63 1/3 postseason innings.
- Victor Robles has patrolled center field for the Nationals on a regular basis ever since his rookie season back in 2019, though it’s possible that could change entering the 2024 season. As relayed by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, manager Dave Martinez told reporters recently that there will be a “battle” between Robles and 24-year-old rookie Jacob Young for the starting center field job, though Martinez added that Robles has “a little bit of an upper hand” coming into camp. Robles has largely been a plus-glove center fielder with below average offense throughout his career, though in 2023 he appeared to flash more offensive upside as he slashed a solid .299/.385/.364. Unfortunately, that slash line came across just 126 trips to the plate as Robles spent most of the year on the injured list due to back injuries. Young, meanwhile, held his own in a 33-game cup of coffee in the majors last year with a decent .252/.322/.336 slash line in 122 trips to the plate.
- Braves left-hander Tyler Matzek missed the entire 2023 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he told reporters (including Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) that he’s feeling good entering Spring Training and hopes to be ready for Opening Day, though he didn’t rule out a possible IL stint to open the season if he needs time to finish preparing to retake the mound. The 33-year-old’s return to the mound figures to provide a significant boost to Atlanta’s relief corps, as Matzek pitched to strong results over three seasons with the Braves prior to the injury. In 132 combined appearances, the southpaw posted a 2.92 ERA with a 3.34 FIP in 135 2/3 innings of work as he struck out 27.4% of batters faced.