Next in line? Jake Eder making his case for a quick big league callup
With Elieser Hernandez out with a quad strain, the Marlins again are looking to solidify their rotation. Could their best option be at Double-A Pensacola?
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Just when the Miami Marlins felt they had their five-man rotation lined up, they received another untimely setback.
Elieser Hernandez suffered a right quad strain while running the bases in Thursday’s 5-3 loss at the Pittsburgh Pirates. The unfortunate setback came on the day Miami reinstated Hernandez from the injured list, marking the first time all season the club carried five starters.
Already, the Marlins have used 11 different starters this season, and they don’t have a scheduled off day until June 17. So, they’ll need to come up with another starter on Wednesday, June 9, at home against the Colorado Rockies.
On the 40-man roster, they have left-handers Braxton Garrett and Daniel Castano at Triple-A Jacksonville.
Non 40-man roster candidates are Josh A. Smith (who was with Miami last year), and left-hander Shawn Morimando, who has limited MLB experience. Both are at Jacksonville.
But the candidate to really keep an eye on is currently at Double-A Pensacola. Left-hander Jake Eder is drawing high praise internally, and throughout the industry.
According to our MO2 insiders, Eder right now may be the top pitching prospect in Miami’s system. Yes, and that includes Max Meyer, the third overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. Our people also feel, Eder is ready to make the big league step.
But the question the Marlins’ front office must ask is if they want to promote him this quickly? He’s not yet on the 40-man roster, and he has thrown 24 2/3 innings total in his pro career. There is no reason to rush him. But there could be urgency, if the organization feels they can track towards .500 and into contention. If so, Eder may be their best option.
Remember, Sixto Sanchez and Edward Cabrera are each recovering from injuries. If or when they are available remains to be seen.
Nick Neidert is on the injured list with right biceps inflammation and Jordan Holloway is on the IL with a right groin strain.
Eder, meanwhile, has been simply dominant Pensacola.
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander has made five starts, and he has a 0.73 ERA, with 42 strikeouts. Eder has a head-turning 15.32 K/9 rate, and a 4.38 BB/9 rate. And his WHIP is 0.97. He’s allowed just 12 hits.
Numbers are always nice. But MO2 has also spoken with those who have seen him pitch, and can assess the quality of his pitches.
What we’re hearing is Eder’s average fastball velocity is 94 mph and he’s up to 98 mph, with wipeout secondary pitches.
The 22-year-old was Miami’s fourth-round pick in 2020.
A South Florida native from Palm Beach County, Eder attended Vanderbilt University, where he was overshadowed by the likes of Kumar Rocker, and others. On Vanderbilt’s 2019 national title team, Eder threw the final three innings in relief in the closeout game against Michigan.
Eder attended Calvary Christian Academy, and in 2017, he pitched in the state playoffs.
The emergence of Eder is a pleasant surprise for the Marlins. What he’s done is perform from the moment he signed. Last year, at the alternate training site and instructs, he simply kept performing, which earned him a Double-A start to his pro career, rather than opening at High A Beloit.
Whether it is this month or at some point this season, Eder has put himself into position to where he’s a candidate to log big league innings in 2021.
The Marlins rotation right now is Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Trevor Rogers and Cody Poteet.
Poteet, like Eder, has been a surprise. The 26-year-old was Miami’s fourth-round pick in 2015 from UCLA. This year, he has reached another level in his development. He previously was throwing 91-92 mph, but now has touched 97 mph.
Garrett, 23, was Miami’s first-round pick in 2016. In four starts at Jacksonville, he’s 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA, with 19 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.
Garrett has already made a big league start this year, logging three innings. The lefty might be first in line to replace Hernandez.
Castano, 26, has already made four starts for the Marlins, with a 5.19 ERA, as well as four starts at Jacksonville, with a 4.98 ERA.
Both Castano and Garrett can be lined up for whenever their needed at the big league level.
The Marlins may ultimately opt to keep Eder at Double-A, or perhaps want him to log some Triple-A innings before reaching the big leagues. Whatever direction the Marlins go to round out their rotation, the lefty from South Florida is making his case.