Preview: Marlins look to recover with series split against Braves
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET
ATLANTA — As the season winds to a close, officials in Miami and Atlanta are trying to determine how players fit into plans for next year.
The starting pitchers for both of those teams falls into that category of uncertainty when R.A. Dickey starts for the Atlanta Braves and Odrisamer Despaigne starts for the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
The Braves won Saturday’s game 6-5 via a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning. It was their second walkoff win of the series. Atlanta has won two of the three games and leads the season series 9-5.
The Braves must decide whether to use their $8 million option and bring Dickey (9-9, 4.14 ERA) back for another year, while the Marlins must determine whether Despaigne (0-3, 3.57) belongs in the starting rotation or the bullpen.
Dickey has been Atlanta’s most consistent starter in 2016. He will be making his 28th start of the season and has gone six innings in 10 starts, seven innings in nine starts and eight innings in one start.
He’s only failed to complete five innings one time, his most recent start on Sept. 4 against Texas. In that game he worked 4 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on eight hits, two of them home runs.
“(The knuckleball) was moving quite a bit, so it’s hard to catch, and it was certainly hard for the umpire behind the plate to call strikes on it,” Dickey said. “There were a number of pitches that were in the strike zone, in the box on TV that should have been strikes but weren’t called. So I was behind the count quite a bit and having to elevate the knuckleball, and that’s tough when you have to do that.”
The Braves must determine whether they need a veteran like Dickey or whether they prefer to give those starts to one of their top young prospects. The organization is currently flush with pitching talent in the minor leagues.
Dickey has made two starts against the Marlins this season, going 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA. He beat them on Aug. 4, allowing four runs over six innings and surviving a pair of home runs.
In 17 career appearances (15 starts) against the Marlins, Dickey is 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA
Despaigne was inserted into the starting rotation for keeps on Aug. 26 and has made four consecutive starts. He had one start early in the season, but has worked mainly in the bullpen until the recent switch.
The 30-year-old native of Cuba has pitched well since making the transition to being a starter. Despaigne has lost the last three games he’s started, despite allowing only five runs over 17 innings.
In his most recent start on Tuesday, he allowed one run in seven innings during a 2-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Despaigne has not faced the Braves this season.
He’s 0-2 in three career appearances, one of them a start, against Atlanta. He pitched two innings against the Braves in 2015 when he played for San Diego.
“Right now, we’re wanting to find out if this guy is going to be a starter,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Obviously, with our situation, we’re looking for starting pitching.”
Despaigne said: “I’m just trying to help the team out, trying to help us win. I want to be part of it and help us get back on the winning side.”