The Marlins went on down to Panama to play in the Legends Series, which would honor newly-retired Mariano Rivera. The series, a two game date in Panama, was intended to both honor Panama’s native son before his former teammates while also raising money for charities like the Children’s Hospital in Panama City. The crowd erupted in cheers every time Rivera appeared.
For MLB it was a baseball diplomatic mission. The Marlins even toured the Panama canal. Rather than just serving their part as the “other” team on tour and paying homage to Rivera, the Marlins made a big splash – they no hit the Yankees in a 5-0 victory with four pitchers: Brad Hand, Steve Cishek, AJ Ramos, and Arquimedes Caminero.
Interestingly, the last time the Marlins tossed a no-hitter in Spring Training was March 22, 2009 when Ricky Nolasco, Dan Meyer, and Leo Nunez (remember him?) silenced the Tigers bats in Lakeland.
Along with Henderson Alvarez’s closing to last season, the Marlins have demonstrated as a club that pitching is their strength. Of the pitchers who combined for the no-no in Panama, three of them are expected to be on the roster at the start of the season in the bullpen. Brad Hand’s role remains to be seen – it is debatable whether or not this will push him into serious contention with Tom Koehler for the 5th spot as Koehler has been pretty consistent all spring.
As for the bullpen, things are starting to shake up. Cishek, Mike Dunn, AJ Ramos, and the erratic Carlos Marmol are locks but there is room for a long reliever, a lefty, and another righty. Hand could slide in as the long reliever, but it looks like Kevin Slowey will hold that position.
The Chuck Hernandez and Reid Cornelius have been tweaking Carter Capps delivery, trying to get him use his legs more to generate his power. A lot of concern has been expressed about Capps’ arm motion, which is rather deceptive but could put a strain on various points of his arm over the long haul. That said, Capps has a live arm and is very much expected to be a part of the backend.
Henry Rodriguez is another guy the Marlins like and he has had a solid spring thus far but, much like Marmol, the question remains about whether or not he can keep his pitches under control. Caminero is practically a lock to get into the pen at the start of the season.
The pitching is coming along and looking ready to fire out of the gate. The offense still remains a work in progress but the components are there to have a better product on the field that will protect Giancarlo Stanton more. Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones are looking like solid additions at this point.
Still, don’t read too much into the no-hitter. Yes, it is an impressive feat, along with the Marlins 11-4 record this spring so far, but there cannot be too much read into a spring that will translate into the summer. Yet the Marlins are delving deeper into their clubhouse culture with each day and there are many noticeable positives from the coaching staff on down to the players. If anything, this puts the league on notice that the Marlins may not be all that bad this season.