Tom Koehler could be nearing his return to the Marlins.
Manager Don Mattingly said he is removing Justin Nicolino from the rotation and putting him in the bullpen, creating a need for a starter in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Mattingly wouldn’t say who that pitcher will be.
“It’s hard to announce moves when you haven’t done them,” Mattingly said.
But Koehler has given strong indication in recent outings at Triple A New Orleans that he’s ready to rejoin the rotation after landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and then being optioned to the minors.
Mattingly acknowledged that Koehler is one option for Saturday’s start.
In his past three outings at New Orleans, Koehler has allowed just three earned runs in 15 2/3 combined innings. He has struck out 20 while walking three during that span.
“He’s been good his last two [starts],” Mattingly said.
Koehler got off to a rough start this season, going 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in eight starts before landing on the DL and then being sent to Triple A. He is scheduled to make his next start for the Baby Cakes on Thursday.
Nicolino (0-1, 4.95) has managed to make it past the fourth inning in only one of his five starts for the Marlins, and that was his first start for them on May 14. One of his starts was cut short by a finger injury.
Nicolino has fared better in limited relief work than he has as a starter, going 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five career relief appearances versus a 7-11 mark with a 4.76 ERA in his 30 starts.
“He’s [been] more aggressive out of the pen, I thought,” Mattingly said.
With the rotation change, Edinson Volquez will now start Friday’s series opener in Milwaukee on regular rest.
“He seems to be better on regular rest,” Mattingly said of Volquez. “Volky likes to stay on turn.”
ARE PRADO, BOUR HEADED ELSEWHERE?
The Yankees and Red Sox have both contacted the Marlins to inquire about third baseman Martin Prado, according to a report in USA Today. The Yankees are also interested in Marlins first baseman Justin Bour, the report said.
With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, the Marlins will likely begin unloading players after the All-Star break if they don’t pick up significant ground in the standings before then.
They went into Wednesday 10 games behind first-place Washington in the National League East and 9 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.
Prado, whom the Marlins acquired in a 2014 trade with the Yankees, is in the first year of a three-year, $40 million deal he signed with Miami at the end of last season.
Bour, who is having a breakout season at the plate, will become eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after this season.
▪ Prado and Marlins outfielders Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton have been named All-Star Ambassadors by Major League Baseball.
The three will be tasked with helping create public awareness for the July 11 All-Star Game at Marlins Park.
▪ Thursday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (6-2, 3.33 ERA) vs. New York Mets RHP Seth Lugo (2-1, 3.72), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Volquez (4-8, 4.15) at Milwaukee Brewers RHP Matt Garza (3-4, 4.43), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.