Last night, Joe Girardi and Bryan Price spoke with the media about how the pitching staff is starting to shape up. In the intrasquad scrimmage, Aaron Nola started for the pinstripe side, throwing 47 pitches and generally looking good for the three innings he went. When asked if he’s going to be able to start Opening Day, Girardi said that he still thinks Nola “definitely is a possibility” of being able to make that initial start. The plan, in his next start, is to get him in the 60-65 pitch range so that hopefully, by the time the Marlins roll into town for the beginning of the season, he’ll be ready to go. Pushed a little bit further, Girardi talked about how there are a lot of possibilities for that first start. All things considered, “I feel pretty good about where Aaron is at” is what you want to hear about the team’s ace at this point.
When asked if he thinks his starters are going to be ready to start stretching themselves out, Girardi pointed out how Nola went 3+ innings, Zack Wheeler is planning on going four innings in his next summer start and that Vince Velasquez will also be going four innings. He thinks that most of the starters will be able to go 5-6 innings when they make their initial start, something that didn’t seem possible when this whole schedule started out. It’s a testament to, first, the pitchers for being able to keep themselves on a specific schedule, and to the coaching staff for having a schedule set up for them during the quarantine that would have them ready to go if/when baseball started to fire back up. It’s a very nice thing to have this coaching staff in place.
During Price’s time with the media, he seemed to be gushing a bit about the depth the bullpen has as compared to in the past. Surprising to us on the outside, names like Garrett Cleavinger and Jojo Romero were bandied about, but seeing Price’s enthusiasm was pretty noticeable.
Talking about the Opening Day rotation, Price noted the competition that is being created due to the size of the rosters during this season. He stressed the need to have some players step up to deliver an unexpected season to help with the bullpen. Mentioning Victor Arano specifically, he talked about the impact he could possibly make if he can make the team and be healthy.
A few more notes:
- To start the season, Price wouldn’t give a specific number of pitchers they’re going to go with, but he did say 16 was probably what it will be.
- Zach Eflin, who has had some back issues, threw a bullpen and did so without limitations
- Spencer Howard, who Price said had a bright future, needs to get some work to build that workload up that he really needs, especially coming off a 2019 that ended early due to injury.
Again, his enthusiasm for the team was something that was refreshing to see. Just listening to both of these guys talk about the pitching staff is genuinely galvanizing, especially as the country around us starts to take a downturn when it comes to the pandemic. We really need baseball to start in a healthy way.