Surprisingly sitting one game out of first place in the NL East, the Miami Marlins have intensified their push for the playoffs by calling up a couple of pitching prospects.
Rookie Anthony DeSclafani looks to help shore up the Marlins' starting rotation when he begins his second stint in the majors Tuesday night against the visiting Chicago Cubs.
Miami was an NL-worst 62-100 last year and had low expectations heading into this season. Things appeared even more grim when 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery in May, but the Marlins (35-34) have managed to stay afloat despite a 6.55 ERA by their starting pitchers since June 5.
They're just behind division-leading Atlanta and are serious about making their first postseason appearance since winning the 2003 World Series, calling up Andrew Heaney and DeSclafani.
Heaney is considered the No. 1 left-handed pitching prospect, according to MLB's official website, and DeSclafani was the Marlins' minor league pitcher of the year last season. Heaney will make his major league debut Thursday.
DeSclafani (1-1, 5.56 ERA) was the immediate fill-in for Fernandez, and held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs over six innings to win his major league debut May 14. Things didn't go as smooth six days later against Philadelphia, allowing five runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 6-5 loss. The right-hander was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans a day later.
DeSclafani had a 3.38 ERA in four starts since the demotion.
"We're trying to win," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said before Monday's 5-4, 13-inning loss to Chicago. "We felt like bringing the young pitchers in ... this was the time. Hopefully, they will help us win games."
Giancarlo Stanton hit his 19th home run Monday and Casey McGehee had a pair of singles with three walks. McGehee is batting .452 with seven RBIs in his last 10 games.
Starlin Castro has been locked in at the plate for the Cubs (29-39), batting .400 with three homers and five doubles in his last 10 games. He hit his 10th homer Monday to match his total from 2013 and had his 11th three-hit game to tie Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki for the most in baseball. Castro had seven three-hit games in 161 contests a year ago.
The biggest hit by the Cubs on Monday was pitcher Travis Wood's pinch-hit RBI double with two outs in the 13th inning to put Chicago ahead.
"Any time you're grinding it out and everybody's running out of pitchers and everybody is running out of players, to pull it out is outstanding," Wood told the Cubs' official website.
Jeff Samardzija (2-6, 2.77) will take the ball for Chicago after yielding four runs and a season-high nine hits in six-plus innings of Thursday's 4-0 loss at Pittsburgh. It was the fourth time in six starts he gave up at least four runs after not allowing that many in any of his first eight outings.
Despite his recent struggles, Samardzija had little trouble in beating the Marlins two starts ago, allowing two runs and five hits while striking out eight in seven innings of a 5-2 win June 7.
That performance, however, took place at Wrigley Field, where Samardzija owns a 1.64 ERA. The right-hander has a 4.10 road ERA this year and 7.43 in his last four games at Miami.
He is 2-1 with a 5.53 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins.
Stanton is 3 for 13 with four strikeouts against Samardzija, while McGehee is 2 for 11 with a homer.