The Marlins just watched two of key pieces of their possible future - Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez - look impressive during their first career starts.
Each has an opportunity to hang on to a spot in the team's rotation.
Their Opening Day starter Jose Ureña appears likely to rejoin the rotation some time next week.
Ureña, who has not pitched since June 20 after suffering a right shoulder impingement, threw a bullpen session on Friday and would test the arm again on Sunday.
"I’m feeling good just trying to do my treatment and get ready,” said Ureña, who is 2-9 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 starts. “I threw all my pitches in my bullpen and tried to get a tempo and see how my arm felt. I’ll throw a few more pitches tomorrow and see how that feels.”
Mattingly said Ureña won’t be ready by Monday when his previous spot would have come up, but he may be ready by the time the Marlins play Washington in a four-game series next week.
“We’re not going to a six-man rotation,” Mattingly said. “Once Ureña gets back, we’ve got some decisions to make after that. We do expect Jose somewhere in the middle of next week to be able to pitch.”
Caleb Smith opting to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery after suffering a grade 3 lat strain prompted the Marlins to call up Alcantara and Lopez.
The Marlins are lined up to start Wei-Yin Chen, Trevor Richards and Alcantara (in that order) against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday through Wednesday.
A possibility is Ureña returning as early as Thursday in Washington. Dan Straily’s turn would be next, but the Marlins would also have Lopez’s turn come up as well as Richards the following day assuming he makes his scheduled start Tuesday.
Mattingly said Saturday that Elieser Hernandez (5.05 ERA in 35 2/3 innings) will move to the bullpen once Ureña returns. Ureña’s return could also allow the Marlins to give an extra day of rest to multiple starters during the final two weeks before the All-Star break (July 16-19).
Mattingly also said he doesn't foresee any sort of innings restriction with Alcantara, who has pitched 90 combined innings between his 85 at Triple A and the five he pitched on Friday night.
Mattingly said both Martin Prado (hamstring) and Garrett Cooper (wrist) have a good chance of returning to action before the All-Star break.
Prado, who has been plagued by injuries the past year and a half, suffered a left hamstring strain that’s kept him out since May 25. He has been on rehab assignment in Jupiter and played his fourth game there on Saturday.
Cooper, who has been out since April 1, has been on rehab assignment at Triple A New Orleans after a brief stint at Single A Jupiter.
Cooper is on the 60-day disabled list and the Marlins would need to make room for him on the 40-man roster. The Marlins would likely move Smith to the 60-day DL.
Smith, who was acquired along with Cooper in a trade with the New York Yankees in November for international pool money, was leading all MLB rookies with 88 strikeouts at the time of his injury.
Smith, 26, went 5-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 77 1/3 innings (16 starts) and won three of his past four decisions with the Marlins going 6-1 over his seven starts before getting hurt.
Sunday: Miami Marlins RHP Dan Straily (3-3, 4.82) vs. New York Mets LHP Steven Matz (3-5, 3.69), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.