Right-hander Pablo Lopez, who enters this weekend ranked third in the National League in ERA, is set to start Saturday when his Miami Marlins take on the visiting San Francisco Giants.
Lopez (4-2, 1.83 ERA), armed with a wicked changeup, will match up against Giants right-hander Logan Webb (5-1, 3.52).
Last year, Lopez had a career-best 3.07 ERA. This season, he got off to a great start, going 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in four April starts. In May, he was solid, going 1-2 with a 2.78 ERA.
Still, the Marlins are just 5-5 in his starts this season. In fact, the Marlins have lost four straight Lopez starts, including Monday, when he pitched six scoreless innings.
However, the Marlins beat the Giants 2-1 on April 9, which was Lopez’s first start of the year. Lopez went five innings in that game, allowing three hits, one walk and one run, striking out six.
Lopez didn’t get a decision in that game. He has yet to beat the Giants in four career appearances, going 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA.
Webb is 16-4 since the start of last season. He faced the Marlins for his first start of this season, on April 8, getting a no-decision in a 6-5 Giants win. He allowed just five hits, one walk and one run in six innings.
In two career starts against Miami, Webb is 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA.
The Giants are 8-2 with Webb on the mound this year. He has seven quality starts in 10 appearances.
As for the support Webb can expect on Saturday, it remains to be seen. The teams have split the first two games of this four-game series.
However, the Giants are banged up, especially with five outfielders and first baseman Brandon Belt out of the lineup by the end of Friday.
The Giants were without outfielders Luis Gonzalez (right leg), Darin Ruf (bereavement), Steven Duggar (oblique), Austin Slater (left wrist) and LaMonte Wade Jr. (left knee).
Giants manager Gabe Kapler, though, had some positive updates on Friday.
“(Slater) could be activated before the end of this series,” Kapler said. “(Belt) is feeling better but not quite ready to join the club.”
Certainly, Lopez gives the Marlins a strong chance to win on Saturday. But the Marlins have yet to nail down roles for their bullpen.
Marlins reliever Tanner Scott, for example, is auditioning for a closer job, but he has allowed five runs in his past four appearances, covering 3 2/3 innings.
“Tanner has the stuff to be that guy,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It’s just a matter of being consistent.”
Mattingly on Friday also talked about Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas, who has made just two errors this year and none since May 15.
“In the middle infield, you want a steady and consistent guy, and ‘Miggy’ has shown that,” Mattingly said. “He’s always been a guy who can pick it at short, and he’s still moving well (at age 33).”
–Field Level Media