Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins’ Jose Urena keeping hitters off balance, becoming solid starter

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena (62) throws in the first inning in this Friday, May 12, 2017, file photo. For a guy who didn’t make the Marlins’ rotation out of spring training, Urena is proving himself to be one of its best options.
Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Urena (62) throws in the first inning in this Friday, May 12, 2017, file photo. For a guy who didn’t make the Marlins’ rotation out of spring training, Urena is proving himself to be one of its best options. adiaz@miamiherald.com

For a guy who didn’t make the Marlins’ rotation out of spring training, Jose Urena is proving himself to be one of its best options.

Urena, who has struggled finding consistency during his brief major-league career, fluctuating between starting and relief roles, won his fifth consecutive decision on Friday night — the longest such streak for a Marlins starter since another Jose (Fernandez) put together eight consecutive wins last season.

“Every start builds up my confidence,” Urena said. “One has to believe they belong up here and has what it takes to succeed.”

Urena is 6-2 this season with a 3.60 ERA in 10 starts and has a 3.33 ERA if you add in six relief appearances he made prior to his transition to the rotation on May 7.

Urena has surpassed his previous win total for his career as a starter over that span. He entered this season with a 4-13 record and a 5.33 ERA in 21 previous starts.

And in Urena’s only two losses, he gave up a combined three earned runs over  11 2/3 innings.

The Marlins have a 6-1 record in Urena’s past seven starts, during which he has not lost.

Fernandez won eight decisions in a row from April 28 to June 5 of last year.

Known for his ability to throw a powerful two-seam and four-seam fastball consistently near 95 to 96 mph, it’s Urena’s command and execution of his changeup and slider that have made him more effective and allowed him to keep hitters guessing.

“I think you see a guy who’s pitching more,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We know the power’s there. He’s using his changeup. He’s using his slider. It at least makes you think as a hitter.”

Urena, who has a 3.62 ERA in June, cooled off a hot Cubs lineup on Friday that had punished the Marlins for 11 runs the previous night, pitching six scoreless innings and allowing only five hits.

Urena has also been able to avoid the big innings in his past four starts. He allowed two runners to reach base after recording two outs in three consecutive innings on Friday night, but each time escaped trouble without allowing a run.

“As long as I keep the ball low in the strike zone, I’ll keep having success,” Urena said.

HECHAVARRIA RUMORS

Mattingly said shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (oblique) could be ready to return by Tuesday. But what uniform he’ll be wearing remained a question.

Hechavarria continues to be the subject of trade speculation. As of Saturday afternoon at least three teams, including the Cardinals and Rays, were rumored to be interested in acquiring the Gold Glove finalist who has played in only 20 games this season.

COMING UP

▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (3-8, 4.19 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs LHP Mike Montgomery (1-3, 2.26), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.

▪ Monday: Off.

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