Marlins' Peters makes first big-league start vs. Phillies (Sep 01, 2017)

BY AP • September 1, 2017

MIAMI -- Time -- and wins -- are slipping away from the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins (66-67) trail the Colorado Rockies by six games in the race for the final National League wild-card playoff berth. To make the playoffs, the Marlins also would have to leap over the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals.

For a while, namely since May 28 through August 27, the Marlins were winning, compiling a 49-33 record during that span. Since then, however, Miami has lost four straight games, including a 3-2 loss to the worst team in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies, on Thursday night.

Fortunately for the Marlins, they have three more games against the woeful Phillies (50-83) this weekend.

On Friday, the Marlins will start left-hander Dillon Peters, who will be making his major league debut. The Phillies will start right-hander Nick Pivetta (5-9, 6.57 ERA).

One of the big tests for Peters will be Phillies first baseman Rhys Hopkins, a big right-handed hitter at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.

Hoskins, a 24-year-old rookie, extended his hitting streak to 13 games on Thursday, and he has hit 11 homers in 22 big-league games. Last year, he hit 38 homers in 135 games at the Double-A level.

"To me, there are run-scorers and run-producers. He's a run-producer," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of Hoskins, who is batting .304. "He's a professional hitter."

As for Peters, he said he found out late Saturday night that he was headed to the big leagues for the first time.

"My manager (Randy Ready at Double-A Jacksonville) called me and told me," Peters said. "It was awesome, but it didn't really sink in until I got on the phone with my dad."

Peters said it was an emotional conversation with his dad.

"The waterworks happened," Peters said. "It was everything you could expect."

Peters arrived at Marlins Park on Thursday -- which was his 25th birthday. In 13 minor league starts this season, Peters was 7-3 with a 1.57 ERA. Nine of those starts were at his highest level, Double-A, where he went 6-2 with a 1.97 ERA.

Although not a big strikeout pitcher, all his other numbers at Double-A were outstanding, including a 0.964 WHIP, 6.5 hits per nine innings, 2.2 walks and 0.2 homers.

A 10th-round pick out of the University of Texas in 2014, Peters likely would have made his major league debut sooner if not for injuries.

The Marlins drafted him knowing he needed elbow surgery in 2014, and then Peters broke his left thumb on his third start of the 2017 season when he was hit by a line drive.

That cost him three months, but now he is back, and the Marlins have injected him into their wild-card playoff race.

Peters, who said his family will be at Marlins Park on Friday to watch him make his debut, has "four screws and a plate" that will forever hold together his left thumb.

He will wear 76 -- his spring-training number -- and he is well rested, not having thrown since last Friday.

"I feel honored that they called me up to help out the team," Peters said. "I think I'm ready. I truly believe that I was meant to do this."

Meanwhile, Pivetta, who made his major league debut this year, is starting against Miami for the third time. He is 1-1 versus the Marlins with an inflated 12.15 ERA.

A 24-year-old native of Canada, Pivetta has reverse splits. In other words, he hasn't been bad against left-handers, allowing a .249 batting average, four homers and a .719 OPS in 185 at-bats.

But right-handed batters have crushed him. In 204 at-bats against righty hitters, he has allowed 17 homers, a .319 batting average and a 1.026 OPS.

He also has been worse in the second half of the season (9.22 ERA compared to 4.73) and worse on the road (7.62 ERA compared to 5.44).

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