Miami Marlins at Chicago Cubs game preview

August 3, 2016


CHICAGO -- Right-hander David Phelps will shift from bullpen duty to spot starter Friday when the Miami Marlins open a three-game weekend series on Friday in Colorado.

"I think that's the way we're going to go," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday, prior to the second in a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs. "Him throwing in the pen (on Tuesday) is a good indicator."

The start will be his first since 2015. So far this season Phelps has made all 50 appearances in relief, posting a 5-5 record, four saves and a 2.65 ERA over 54 1/3 innings pitched.


Phelps, a 29-year-old veteran of five big league seasons, picked up the win in his last outing on July 30, a 2 2/3 inning effort against the Cardinals.

He entered in the fourth inning to replace injured starter Colin Rea and gave up no runs on one hit while striking out four and walking two.

"I think you'll see him as he looked as a starter, he'll use more pitches," said Mattingly. "I think as a reliever you see more fastball, cutter, runback and keep it pretty simple. It's one of those things that you're hoping it's a 12-14 pitch outing when you're coming in and able to just attack."

In a starting role, Phelps has a 4.36 ERA and .262 opponent batting average.

In the meantime, Miami will wrap up the Wrigley Field series with a Wednesday day game as right-hander Tom Koehler (8-8, 4.18 ERA) goes against Cubs righty John Lackey (8-7, 3.69 ERA).

The Marlins and Cubs each have Thursday off.

While the Cubs bolstered their bullpen prior to the Major League trading deadline this week, they couldn't land one more top starting pitcher even with two top possibilities working just nine miles away.

The cost was just too high.

The Chicago White Sox might have been dangling left-hander Chris Sale (14-4, 3.17 ERA) or Jose Quintana (8-8, 2.89 ERA), but not necessarily to the crosstown Cubs without a hefty premium attached.

In the end, both stayed put on Chicago's South Side.

"There's probably a tax you have to pay," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said this week. "There's going to be a lot more focus or scrutiny on a deal that's made between those two teams.

"At some level, I think both teams are aware of that. I know that when we were sellers, we had some awareness. And I'm sure that on the other side of town, there's some awareness of that as well."

Maybe Cubs won't need an extra starting arm anyway.

Right-handed starter Kyle Hendricks -- once perceived as the No. 5 starter -- has moved to the top of the heap lately. After Monday's 5-0, complete game shutout victory Hendricks lowered his ERA to 2.22, third lowest in the majors. His 1.19 ERA at home is the lowest in baseball.

He's 10-7 on the season 6-1 since June 19 in eight starts and with a 1.09 ERA in that span.