Injuries, inconsistency hurting Marlins' starting rotation

The Marlins' starting pitching has been up and down the first three months of the season and needs to find some consistency for Miami to make a run at first place in the NL East.

Anthony DeSclafani (left) listens to catcher Jeff Mathis and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez during Sunday's game. DeSclafani gave up seven runs and didn't make it through the fourth inning.

Steve Mitchell / USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI -- At the beginning of the week, the Miami Marlins made a series of transactions that changed two-fifths of their starting rotation.

Veteran lefty Randy Wolf was designated for assignment to pave the way for right-hander Anthony DeSclafani's second stint in the big leagues. Southpaw Andrew Heaney earned his highly anticipated debut on Thursday in righty Jacob Turner's spot.

DeSclafani exited his fourth career start in the fourth inning as the Marlins dropped the four-game set to the New York Mets in an 11-5 loss Sunday afternoon.

After tossing a perfect first, DeSclafani surrendered seven runs on seven hits -- three for extra bases -- in just 3 2/3 innings. The Mets jumped on him for two in the second, third and fourth.

''Definitely not the start I wanted,'' said DeSclafani, who walked two batters and struck out another. ''Pretty much (my) slider was a non-factor, fell behind hitters and fastballs fly up in the zone. I'm not going to get the results I want pitching like that. I didn't give my team a chance to get outs or a win. That falls on me for sure.''

It marked the second time this season DeSclafani was unable to duplicate success from a previous major-league outing.

To follow up his solid debut of six innings of two-run ball May 14 at Dodger Stadium, DeSclafani allowed five runs on six hits in 5 1/3 to the Philadelphia Phillies for the loss. Miami sent him to Triple-A New Orleans, where he pitched until this week.

DeSclafani went a career-high 6 1/3 innings this past Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs, giving up four runs -- one inherited -- on six hits with five strikeouts and a walk in a no decision. Miami would go on to win 6-5.

''Being up here you have to be consistent,'' DeSclafani said. ''It's pitch to pitch, locating all your pitches and keeping hitters off balance. When I'm not going good I'm doing those things. I'm not down in the zone and falling behind hitters. If I want to have success here that's what I have to do -- locate, get ahead. Give my team a chance to get outs.''

Despite dropping eight of their past 11 and falling below .500 for the first time since April 30, the Marlins are still just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East.

But this spot in the rotation must be settled. It has been out of whack since Turner landed on the DL after being scratched prior to his second start of the season in Washington, D.C.

Turner, who was relegated to the bullpen and came in for DeSclafani in the fourth, was tagged for four runs on seven hits in three frames. He has given up at least four runs in five of his last six starts and seven of nine overall.

Lefty Brad Hand continues to rehab after going on the DL with a right ankle sprain on May 24. He is a combined 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts between Single-A Jupiter and Triple-A New Orleans.

Before the injury, however, he was 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA in 16 games (two starts) with the Marlins. In those two starts for Hand, he gave up a combined eight runs on 12 hits in just 6 1/3 innings. He is out of options, so a decision must be made on him soon. He lost out on the fifth spot in the rotation to righty Tom Koehler and started the year as a long reliever.

Needless to say manager Mike Redmond hopes someone will step up to take hold of the spot. DeSclafani has just four career starts under him and he was the organization's minor league pitcher of the year after coming over from the blockbuster trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

''I think it's probably fair to say it's been a concern, right?'' Redmond said of the rotation spot. ''It's one of those things -- we need five starters. We need five starters to keep us in the game. That's the bottom line.''

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.