Protect the young arms.
That's one of the missions for the Miami Marlins, who will start rookie left-hander Trevor Rogers (4-2, 1.89 ERA) on Thursday in the finale of their four-game series in Phoenix against the host Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona leads the series, 2-1, after Miami snapped itsseason-high-tying four-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 3-2 win.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Rogers' originally scheduled start was moved back by a day, and the Marlins also did the same thing with right-hander Pablo Lopez, 25, earlier this season.
That's probably wise given the value of these young pitchers, especially Rogers, who is the National League's reigning Rookie of the Month after going 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA in April. In five April starts, Rogers struck out 38 batters in 28 innings and outdueled two-time Cy Young Award-winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, among others.
Rogers is the first Marlins pitcher to win NL Rookie of the Month since the late Jose Fernandez did it in August 2013.
"We see a confident kid," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Rogers. "If you read his comments in the spring, he felt like he belonged. He's not boastful. But there's a little fire that is burning in there. It's a quiet confidence."
Rogers, who grew up in New Mexico -- one of Arizona's neighboring states -- will be making his first career start against the Diamondbacks in what figures to be a homecoming.
The Diamondbacks will counter with right-hander Merrill Kelly (2-3, 5.40 ERA), who missed three days due to COVID-19 protocols but still kept his turn in the rotation.
Kelly is 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA in his only career appearance against Miami. That occurred in 2019, when Kelly started and allowed seven earned runs in six innings. He walked two batters and allowed two homers, striking out four.
But that game was in Miami. It bodes well for Kelly on Thursday that his career numbers at home (9-6, 3.23 ERA) are better than on the road (9-13, 5.33 ERA).
Kelly's career numbers also show that he gets stronger as games go on as he has a 2.93 ERA in innings four through six. In the first three innings, his ERA is 5.54.
The Diamondbacks are 4-3 this year when Kelly -- a former Arizona State star -- takes the mound.
Manager Torey Lovullo is looking for Kelly to eat up innings on Thursday. That's especially true after Arizona starter Zac Gallen was scratched from Wednesday's start due to an elbow injury.
The Diamondbacks also on Wednesday placed first baseman Christian Walker (sore oblique) on the injured list. That continued a season-long trend of injuries for Arizona.
"These are challenging times," Lovullo said. "It's how we respond to those situations that is going to separate us."
The Diamondbacks on Thursday will look to stop Marlins first baseman Jesus Aguilar, who homered again on Wednesday. All nine of Aguilar's homers this season have come on the road.
Overall, Aguilar -- an All-Star in 2018 when he hammered a career-high 35 homers -- leads the National League with 31 RBIs.
Arizona rookie Andrew Young also homered on Wednesday. He has four hits this season -- all of them homers.
One concern for Miami is the status of second baseman Isan Diaz, who left Wednesday's game in the third inning because he felt "unwell and fatigued," according to the Marlins.
--Field Level Media