Tom Koehler exited the first inning of Tuesday’s game with his head down. He exited the second inning with his head down. He exited the third inning with his head down. And he entered his postgame press conference with his head down -- for two reasons.
Not only had he allowed eight earned runs in his three innings, but Miami’s starter had just found out he was heading to the minor leagues.
“It was a tough day,” he said, “that just continues to get tougher.”
In his place, the Marlins recalled Odrisamer Despaigne, a 30-year-old righthander who has started once this season.
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Despite his disappointment, Koehler said the decision is understandable. In eight starts this season, the MLB veteran has earned a 1-2 record and a 7.04 ERA.
Koehler hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs -- aside from his first start of the season -- this year and hasn’t gone deeper than six innings.
He also hasn’t played in the minor leagues since 2013.
He’s the latest casualty of a turbulent starting rotation.
Starter Adam Conley was also sent down last week. Wei-Yin Chen has been out since the beginning of the month with an injury. And opening-day starter Edinson Volquez suffered a brief injury of his own.
In total, eight Marlins have started at least once this season, and that number could rise on Sunday when Koehler’s spot in the rotation is due up.
Manager Don Mattingly said that while Despaigne took Koehler’s spot on the roster, it isn’t guaranteed that he’ll start. The team is exploring its options, he said, and a decision hasn’t been made yet.
He added that reliever David Phelps will be considered, but if he's chosen, he'll spend the rest of the season in the starting rotation.
Reliever Brian Ellington was also called up on Wednesday, catching an early flight from New Orleans to arrive in Miami a couple hours before the game.
Ellington is familiar with the big leagues, having pitched for the Marlins as recently as Friday. He said he’d just gotten back to New Orleans when he got the call to head back to Miami. Which was fine with him.
“Any time you get to pitch in the big leagues,” he said, “it’s awesome.”
Ellington was called up after Miami’s bullpen burned through six innings and four pitchers on Tuesday.
“What happened last night put us in a situation where if something would’ve happened to [starter Jose Urena] today,” Mattingly said, “we’ve gotta be able to get through this.”
Fellow reliever Junichi Tazawa, who Mattingly said is dealing with a rib injury, was placed on the 10-day disabled list to make room for Ellington. Mattingly said there’s no timetable for Tazawa’s return, but he doesn’t think it’s too serious.
▪ Starter Wei-Yin Chen, who’s been on the 10-day disabled list since May 5 with “left arm fatigue,” said Wednesday that he had an MRI that didn’t reveal anything new.
“They didn’t see any obvious problems,” he said through a translator.” So the doctor may come today and we’ll talk about it.”
His status moving forward is still uncertain.
“Of course as a player, you want to come back and pitch as soon as possible,” Chen said. “But at this moment, we’re still not sure.”
▪ The Marlins made one other roster move on Wednesday, sending Mike Aviles to Triple-A to call up utility infielder Christian Colon. A 2010 first-round MLB draft pick, Colon was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday. Mattingly called Colon a “good fit.”
▪ Miami’s bullpen has struggled in May, amassing a 5.58 ERA entering Wednesday's game. The two bright spots have been tenured closer A.J. Ramos (2.77) and 24-year-old rookie lefthander Jarlin Garcia (3.00)
▪ Rookie shortstop J.T. Riddle has struggled at the plate in his first 15 games. In 28 plate appearances, Riddle has five hits and zero walks.
Thursday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (0-5, 4.41) at Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-5, 4.99), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.
Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (0-0, 1.50) at Los Angeles Dodgers (TBA), 10:10 p.m., Dodger Stadium.