The Marlins have decided to go with Brad Hand and Brad Penny — and not their two rookie call-ups — as their starting pitchers for Sunday’s series finale against the Braves and Monday’s game at Milwaukee.
“We felt like these guys [Hand and Penny] give us our best chance right now with where they’re at and where we’re at,” manager Mike Redmond said.
The Marlins, clinging to faint playoff hopes and chasing both the Braves and Brewers, had All-Star Henderson Alvarez in line to start Sunday before he was hurt earlier in the week with a left oblique strain.
Alvarez said Friday he feels better and he thinks he’ll make his next start, but he still needs to throw a bullpen session first.
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The Marlins called up right-hander Anthony DeSclafani and left-hander Andrew Heaney — two of their top three pitching prospects — when rosters expanded on Monday and considered having one or both of them make starts. But they’ll remain in the bullpen for now, Redmond said.
“I have a feeling those guys will be able to find spots to get in whether it’s an inning or two or three innings,” Redmond said. “It’s always nice to have extra bodies down there, guys that can pitch. We’ll see as we get farther along where we could utilize those guys the best.”
Redmond said the fact Heaney (158 innings) and DeScalafani (129 2/3 innings) already have hit new career highs in innings pitched this season didn’t play a factor in the decision.
Heaney, who made four starts and struggled (0-3, 6.53 ERA) after the Marlins called him up in mid-June, didn’t exactly sparkle when he went back down to the minors. In 11 starts for Triple A New Orleans after his demotion, Heaney went 2-4 with a 4.30 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 21 walks.
“Whether I start or not, I just want to pitch well and do better,” Heaney said. “... Right now I just want to soak in this experience, try to pitch well and go into the offseason to be ready to compete for a spot in spring training.”
DeSclafani (6-7, 3.78 ERA in 20 appearances in the minors this season) gave up four hits and three earned runs in one inning in his first appearance back with the team on Tuesday.
“I still have to get consistent with some of my secondary pitches — throw it any point in the count — to be able to compete up here,” DeSclafani said. “It’s a work in progress.”
Struggling first baseman Garrett Jones (.206, 3 HRs, 10 RBI since the All-Star Break) is getting a couple days off to try to straighten himself out, Redmond said.
He’ll likely be back in the lineup Sunday when the Braves go with right-hander Julio Teheran. The Marlins started Justin Bour at first Friday.
“He’s really been grinding,” Redmond said of Jones. “I’ll try to give him a couple days here to relax — a couple mental days. We need him. We need to get him back on track.”
Jones, who is having his worst defensive season in the big leagues and has started 124 games this season for the Marlins, entered Friday’s game with only four hits in his past 31 at-bats (.129) with 11 strikeouts.
“Sometimes you need to step back and take a couple days off,’’ Redmond said. “A lot of times that helps.”
: Marlins RHPNathan Eovaldi
(6-10, 4.19 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves LHPAlex Wood
(10-10, 2.92), 7:10 p.m. Marlins Park.
: Marlins RHPBrad Hand
(2-6, 4.76) vs. Braves RHPJulio Teheran
(13-10, 2.90), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.