Preview: Marlins close out series in Atlanta looking for a win
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 1 p.m.
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves will continue the audition for one of their young pitching prospects Sunday when they send Lucas Sims to the mound for his second career start.
Sims (0-1, 4.50 ERA) starts the final contest of the three-game series against the Miami Marlins, who counter with one of their promising young arms in Jose Urena (9-5, 3.82).
Atlanta has won the first two games of the series at SunTrust Park. The Braves are 7-3 against Miami this season and have beaten the Marlins in 18 of the last 28 meetings.
Sims, who was Atlanta’s first-round draft choice in 2012, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett last week and made his major league debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sims gave up three runs on six hits and struck out three in six solid innings.
“I tried my best to just slow it down, stay in the moment, kind of just enjoy the little things,” Sims said. “Putting on your uniform for the first time, lacing up your spikes, embracing the crowd walking out — a lot of little things that I tried to soak in.”
Urena broke into the Miami rotation late in 2015 and was promoted again midway in the 2016 season. This year, the former international free agent has experienced a breakthrough year. He leads the team in wins and is second in ERA among starters, second in innings pitched and third in strikeouts.
Sims is trying to become the second rookie to gain a foothold in the Atlanta rotation. Earlier this season, left-hander Sean Newcomb got the call-up when Bartolo Colon went on the disabled list. Newcomb pitched so well that the Braves released Colon. Newcomb has now made 11 starts.
The Braves have also tried Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair in the rotation. Wisler was recalled to make an extra start in a double-header against the Mets. Blair got a chance to start at Arizona and was shelled.
Both right-handers were expected to have significant roles in the future of the rotation as Wisler started 45 games over the previous two seasons and Blair started 15 games last year.
Sims could be the second young arm to jump past both. He grew up in the Atlanta area and entered the season as the team’s No. 14 prospect. He was 7-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for Triple-A Gwinnett before being recalled Aug. 1.
Urena joined the rotation to stay in early May and only twice has failed to pitch at least five innings. He’s done a better job using his changeup and slider and mixing his pitches since rejoining the rotation.
“Every start builds up my confidence,” Urena said. “One has to believe they belong up here and has what it takes to succeed.”
Urena is coming off his best start of the season. On July 31 against Washington, Urena threw eight innings and allowed only one run on three hits. He struck out six and walked one in that appearance, but absorbed a 1-0 loss when the Marlins couldn’t score against Gio Gonzalez, who took a no-hitter into the ninth.
Urena has made two starts against Atlanta this season, going 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA. In his most recent appearance against the Braves on June 18, Urena allowed two runs on three hits in six innings and received no-decision.