Back with the team on Wednesday after six minor-league starts on a rehab assignment, the left-hander will start Thursday in the final home game for the Marlins before a nine-game road trip that precedes the All-Star break.
How long Hand remains in the rotation, manager Mike Redmond said Wednesday, “really is up to him.”
“We’ll see how it goes, right?” Redmond said. “We’ve tried some different guys. It’s an opportunity for somebody to run with it. I would love for Brad Hand to step in there and pitch great and be the guy for the rest of the season. That would be outstanding. That would make things a lot easier for all of us.”
The Marlins, who rank 12th in the National League in starters’ ERA (4.03), have used 10 different starting pitchers through the first half of the season. That’s tied for second-most in the NL with the Padres and two fewer than the Rockies.
Part of that was losing ace Jose Fernandez for the season. The other part were injuries to and struggles by Jacob Turner, who is now the team’s long reliever.
Hand, who began the season with the Marlins as a long reliever, was 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA and an awful 1.792 WHIP in 16 appearances before he sprained his right ankle on May 24. He made two starts earlier in the year when Turner was on the disabled list. Hand didn’t do very well in either start, posting a combined 11.37 ERA and not getting beyond the fourth inning in either appearance, both Marlins losses.
He did pitch well, though, during his rehab assignment, going 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts with 22 strikeouts and nine walks for Triple A New Orleans. He posted a 0.75 ERA in two starts for Single A Jupiter.
“It was nice to go down there, get some innings in and make everything comfortable again,” said Hand, who in 17 career big-league starts with the Marlins is 1-11 with a 5.38 ERA with 54 strikeouts and 47 walks. “When you’re a starter you’re on a routine. You get a feel for certain pitches. This [season] was the first time I threw out of the bullpen. There’s a learning period.”Adeiny Hechavarria
But if he isn’t, the Marlins aren’t going to rush him, Redmond said.
“He said it was flipped to him,” Lucas said. “He’s keeping it.
“I’ve got [the baseballs] for all my firsts. So I’ll remember that one.”