Miami Marlins pitcher Carlos Zambrano, right, hands the ball to manager Ozzie Guillen, left, as catcher John Buck waits for reliever Chad Gaudin during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh Saturday, July 21, 2012.
The Marlins on Monday moved struggling starter Carlos Zambrano
to the bullpen and inserted left-hander Wade LeBlanc
— the team’s best pitcher this spring — into the rotation.
How long that lasts, manager Ozzie Guillen
said, depends on how both perform. But LeBlanc will start Wednesday against the Braves and potentially “a couple more starts.’’
“It wasn’t an easy move,’’ Guillen said. “I think Carlos, I don’t want to say deserved more than that, but the first two months of the season was outstanding. The last game was weird. This guy was dealing, a very nice game. Then from one inning to another he lost it. I want to try to give him a lot of chances [in the bullpen]. We’re going to see how it works.’’
Over his first 11 starts with the Marlins, Zambrano went 4-3 with a 2.81 ERA, 56 strikeouts and 29 walks. But over his past nine starts he has been miserable, going 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA. He has walked 38 with 27 strikeouts over the span.
Guillen said his plan is to use Zambrano for as many as two innings — or as a long reliever if need be. The Marlins play a double-header Friday in Washington and while Josh Johnson
is scheduled to start one of those games, the other starter has yet to be announced. Guillen said depending on how Zambrano is used over the next couple days, he could start the other game Friday.
But the more likely scenario is the Marlins will call up someone from the minors. Recently acquired prospect Jacob Turner
, who is scheduled to pitch for Triple A New Orleans on Thursday, could be that guy.
“He was disappointed. He was embarrassed,’’ Guillen said of Zambrano when he was told he was going to the bullpen. “[He] feels bad because we brought him here and he’s not doing the way he thinks he can do it. ... He was fine. And I told him I will give him the opportunity to pitch.’’
LeBlanc, 17-21 with a 4.47 ERA as a starter over four seasons in San Diego, said he’s excited to get a shot at starting.
“As long as I’m up here helping this team do something I’m happy — whether I’m better suited for the rotation or the bullpen it remains to be seen,’’ said LeBlanc, who has gone 1-1 with a 1.15 ERA in 11 relief appearances (15 2/3 innings) since being called up on July 1. “I’m aware they got Turner from Detroit and they probably want to see what he can do. So, I’m just going to go out there and try to get as many outs as I can and give this team a chance.’’
While the Marlins have undergone a massive makeover in the past week — shipping Hanley Ramirez
and Randy Choate
to the Dodgers and Omar Infante
and Anibal Sanchez
to the Tigers for younger players — Guillen said Monday the moves the club has made are right for the future.
“I think they start thinking with their brains, not with their heart,’’ Guillen said. “That’s the way we’ve got to move on. ... Like I said yesterday, we’re not trading for kids in Single A, rookie league. We’re trading for kids who can help us very soon. That’s a good start.
“I think what they’re doing right now is the right thing. They’re doing a pretty good job of trying to put the best team together for a few years to come.’’Coming up
: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco
(8-9, 4.80 ERA) at Atlanta Braves RHP Kris Medlen
(1-1, 2.48), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field. Wednesday
: Marlins LHP Wade LeBlanc
(1-1, 1.15) at Braves RHP Ben Sheets
(3-0, 0.50), 7:10 p.m., Turner Field.
• Scouting report
: Nolasco is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA in two starts against the Braves this season. Medlen has pitched four scoreless innings of relief against the Marlins this season.