Gaping void in Marlins rotation proving difficult to fill
MAY 25, 2014 6:34p ET
MIAMI -- When it became clear that ace Jose Fernandez would require Tommy John surgery, the Miami Marlins turned to a rookie for the first two starts in his place.
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani won his major-league debut in Los Angeles before dropping his second outing at home. In both games, veteran Randy Wolf came on in relief, present as an obvious backup plan.
On Sunday afternoon, Wolf made his return as a starter for the first time since Sept. 22, 2012 at Boston. Then a member of the Baltimore Orioles, he allowed three runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts over five innings.
Wolf didn't fare as well as the Marlins dropped the series to the Brewers in a 7-1 loss at Marlins Park.
The 15-year veteran surrendered six runs (four earned) on nine hits (five for extra bases) with three strikeouts and a walk in five innings. He threw 89 pitches (59 strikes).
"It's not the first time I've had a bad game," Wolf said. "The only thing that I take out of this game for the next (game) is that things got better as the game went on. ... I've never been one of those guys who can overpower guys, so I've got to be smart and throw good pitches."
His former club produced four consecutive hard one-out hits to take a 3-0 lead in the first. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy knocked back-to-back doubles. Carlos Gomez singled and then stole second, scoring on Rickie Weeks' single to left that went under Christian Yelich's glove.
The 37-year-old saw the Brewers add on another unearned run in the second on Braun's RBI triple to drive in Jean Segura, who reached on an error. Lucroy followed with his second RBI double.
Martin Maldonado extended the lead to 6-0 in the third with an RBI single to score Khris Davis, who had doubled off the right-center wall with one out.
Wolf settled down after that, not giving up a run over his final two frames and retiring seven of his last eight batters.
"It's pretty simple when I don't pitch well -- it's a matter of executing pitches, especially early on everything was up and a few times painted myself in a corner with the count I was in," Wolf said. "When you get in those kind of situations and you don't make good pitches against a good lineup, it's hard to be successful."
An owner of 132 wins (129 as a starter), Wolf saw the opposing pitcher -- Jimmy Nelson -- earn his first big-league win in just his second start.
What the Marlins decide to do with the rotation spot moving forward remains to be seen. Fernandez, the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year is impossible to replace, but a solid substitute is needed if Miami hopes to continue competing in the NL East.
"I guess we weren't really sure what to expect of him," manager Mike Redmond said of Wolf. "It was a grind, it was a struggle obviously. We've talked about Jose's spot is going to be tough to fill. We'll see where it goes from here. â¦ We're trying to figure out what is going to be best, if it's bringing in a younger and let him pitch or continue to stay with Wolfie and see if he can eat up some of those innings."