PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- So many arms, so few innings.
Early into the Grapefruit League schedule, the Marlins have a challenge to find enough work for their quality hurlers. Pitching is the strength of the organization, and the franchise feels it has an abundance of it. A number of candidates are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, and for either a setup or long relief role.
"There still is a lot of competition out there for those spots," manager Mike Redmond said. "We're trying to evaluate all the guys who can fill that role."
Tom Koehler may have the early edge for the fifth spot. If he doesn't win it, he is a relief option or a candidate to be sent to Triple-A.
Jacob Turner is the frontrunner to be fourth, and Brad Hand and Kevin Slowey are candidates for the fifth spot.
"We're going to take the best five guys to Miami with us," Redmond said. "We want to see which guys are the most consistent. They've got to earn it. We talked about that early on when we got here. It's going to be a nice competition. I'm excited to see these guys go out there and compete."
The demand for innings will shrink in the next couple of weeks as starting candidates are stretched out.
On Wednesday morning, such prospects as Andrew Heaney, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino pitched in a "B" game against the Cardinals on Field 2.
"They're still going to pitch and get their innings," Redmond said. "It's hard to get everybody a start when you've got seven, eight guys out there. You've got to keep finding innings for them. The biggest thing is just for them to continue to ramp up and get their pitches in. Where we slot them is not a big deal, as long as they get their innings in.
"But as we go, guys will start throwing multiple innings here. So the innings for guys will start getting smaller the more we get going here."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter