Mattingly expected to return as Marlins host Braves

MIAMI — When the Atlanta Braves continue their four-game series at the Miami Marlins on Friday, both starting pitchers will be looking for redemption.

Marlins right-hander Dan Straily who won 24 games the past two years but started this season on the disabled list, has yet to earn a decision in 2018 and has an ugly 6.75 ERA after two starts. He lasted four innings in each of his starts, and walked four batters each time.

Straily is 2-2 with a 5.52 ERA in six starts versus Atlanta.

His counterpart, Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy, struggled to command his sinker and cutter in his most recent start, which was one of the worst of his 13-year major league career.

Pitching against the San Francisco Giants, he allowed 12 hits, one walk and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. McCarthy, who is 4-1, saw his ERA rise to 4.84.

McCarthy is 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in three starts versus Miami.

McCarthy is hoping the Braves’ offense, which leads the National League in runs, continues to provide outstanding support.

In Thursday’s series opener, Ozzie Albies hit his first career grand slam as part of a seven-run sixth inning, and Freddie Freeman posted his first five-hit game, leading Atlanta to a 9-2 win.

Albies’ homer was his 11th this season. Freeman hit a two-run homer in the sixth. It was the sixth homer of the season for Freeman, who finished 5-for-5 with those two RBIs.

In addition, former leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte went 3-for-5 for Atlanta.

Inciarte said he misses the leadoff spot, which is now capably handled by Albies, who finished with five RBIs on Thursday.

“I’ve always liked hitting in the leadoff spot,” Inciarte told the media. “But I’m not concerned. (Braves manager Brian Snitker) is going to do what he can to put the team in the best position to win.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly was not at Thursday’s game because of a death in his family. Tim Wallach managed the Marlins, but Mattingly is expected back on Friday.

Mattingly will return to a Marlins team that has lost four straight games, getting outscored 40-11 in that span.

Miami will once again face a Braves team that has won eight straight road games, and the Marlins enter the weekend with a badly bruised bullpen.

The latest example is Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider, who entered Thursday with a 1.08 ERA in 17 appearances. But he took the brunt of Atlanta’s sixth-inning barrage, getting one out and allowing two walks, two homers and six runs. His ERA rose to 4.24.

Other Marlins relievers with ERAs north of 4.00 include closer Brad Ziegler (6.28) and set-up men Junichi Tazawa (7.41) and Tayron Guerrero (4.15).

One Marlins reliever who still has a pristine ERA is Kyle Barraclough (2.30 in 16 appearances).

Barraclough, who turns 28 on May 23, said his improved changeup is a key to his success so far in 2018.

“It’s something I can throw even when I’m behind in the count,” Barraclough told mlb.com. “My changeup opens up the fastball and the slider. Now you have the three pitches in your head and not just two. It’s a snowball effect.”