The Marlins optioned nine players to the minors Tuesday including starter Justin Nicolino and relievers Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington.
The three pitchers, along with catcher Tomas Telis, were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
The Marlins reassigned outfielders Isaac Galloway and Destin Hood, right-handed pitchers Paul Clemens and Andre Rienzo and catcher Francisco Arcia to minor-league camp.
Barraclough and Ellington, both hard-throwing righties, were being considered as potential middle relief or set-up options in the wake of reliever Carter Capps’ season-ending injury.
In 2015, Barraclough,went 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 25 relief appearances last season, allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 24 1/3 innings and posted 30 strikeouts and 18 walks. This spring, Barraclough made six appearances and went 4 2/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run in his first four outings, but gave up a combined three in his last two and walked three batters, striking out only two.
Ellington had similar numbers in 2015, going 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in 23 appearances and 25 innings. He allowed 10 runs (eight earned), struck out 18 and walked 13. This spring, he made five appearances against major league teams, and went four innings, allowing six runs (four earned), six walks and had four strikeouts.
"Those two are guys we feel like through the course of this summer will be big for us," Mattingly said. "Both of those guys’ fastball command was an issue in spring training. In terms of power stuff, Barraclough probably has the best slider coming out of our bullpen. But you have to get to that pitch. As a power arm, you want him to get ahead in the counts and puts the hitter on defense."
Nicolino had been competing for a spot in the team’s rotation to start the season. Last year, he also began the year at Triple-A before being called up after injuries to starters.
Nicolino made 12 starts at the big-league level in 2015 and went 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 74 innings pitched, making two starts in June following an injury to Tom Koehler. He was then sent back down to the minors and recalled in August following an injury to Jose Fernandez and pitched in the rotation for the remainder of the season.
With a mostly pitch to contact style so far in his career, Nicolino had only 23 strikeouts and 20 walks. This spring, he made two starts and three appearances overall this spring, and went 0-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings with two strikeouts and no walks. He retired 22 of the 31 batters he faced either by ground outs (12) or fly ball outs (10).
"For us with Nicolino it was a matter of getting him ready," Mattingly said. "We know we’re going to need him during the course of the season. Nico is definitely a starting pitcher and a guy we think will pitch in the majors for a long time."