The Miami Marlins announced on Sunday that Wei-Yin Chen will be given the ball on Opening Day against the Detroit Tigers.
Miami had been expected to name Jose Fernandez as its starter for the first game of the season, and threw the baseball world a curve ball with this announcement. Teams typically give the honor of pitching on Opening Day to the staff ace. Miami has not supplied a reason for Chen's selection, but it could be related to an innings limit for Fernandez.
With off-days and rotation shuffling, Miami could possibly add an extra start later in the year by beginning his season a tad later. The Marlins would ultimately like to have Fernandez's services available to them during a pennant chase. The plan is for Fernandez to start game two and take an extra day of rest for some starts this season.
The Marlins have not formally announced a set number of innings for Fernandez, but avoiding injury is critical for Miami and its prized right-hander. The New York Mets had a similar situation with their ace Matt Harvey in 2015. The Mets ultimately let Harvey pitch into October, but did scale back his workload down the stretch. In a perfect world, Miami would prefer to have Fernandez fully available in a possible October schedule.
Miami is using the spring to design the rest of its starting rotation. Only three spots are considered secure with Tom Koehler joining Chen and Fernandez. The other two slots in rotation could end up going to the likes of Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley or Justin Nicolino. The competition for the final two spots could go down to the wire.
The Marlins are set to take on the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday with David Phelps on the mound. Phelps is still in competition for a rotation spot as well, but is more likely to end up as a middle reliever for the team.