The Marlins, who have won six of their last seven games, will lean on Jacob Turner on Sunday against the Astros to see if they can close out their fourth three-game series sweep of the season.
For Turner, returning to the rotation is an opportunity to once again show he belongs. The 23-year-old opened the season in the rotation, but after stumbling to a 6.38 ERA in nine starts, was moved to the bullpen in June. After the All-Star break, though, he was given the chance to state his case for one of the open spots at the back end of Miami's rotation.
He allowed two earned runs on Tuesday in Atlanta, his first start since June 11. Turner's pitch count built up to 82 pitches in five innings, and he was awarded the win for just the third time this season.
"Actually, I felt fine," Turner said. "I threw that [simulated game] that helped me transition into it a little bit easier. My arm felt good and rebounded nice."
Sunday will be Turner's 11th start, and 19th overall appearance. With the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming on Thursday, and the Marlins looking to stop the revolving door in the rotation's fifth spot, the right-hander will need to turn in a solid performance on Sunday, especially since Brad Hand's been holding up his own end of the bargain.
"As far as people getting traded or not getting traded, I literally look at it zero," said Turner, whom the Marlins acquired around the non-waiver Trade Deadline two years ago. "All the way coming up with the Tigers, I felt like every Trade Deadline I was going to get traded, or they were going to trade for somebody. I think that's the nature of the business. ... But we're playing well. That breeds a lot of excitement."
The Astros, meanwhile, will send Collin McHugh to the mound at Minute Maid Park for the first time since he landed on the 15-day disabled list earlier this month. He was pulled from his last start against the Angels on July 6 with an injury called a right nail avulsion -- which is when the nail pulls away from the skin -- after giving up three runs (two earned) and four hits in four innings.
McHugh threw a successful rehab start on Tuesday at Triple-A Oklahoma City in which he tossed 80 pitches in five innings. This season, the 27-year-old has posted a 3.28 ERA and a 4-8 record. McHugh's presence in the rotation signals the return of a pitcher with the second-most strikeouts on the Astros. His 93 strikeouts (compared to just 33 walks) in 82 1/3 innings give him a team-leading 10.17 K/9 ratio.
Marlins: Gonzalez to play through injury
Manager Bo Porter gave Marwin Gonzalez a break on Friday, but the shortstop was back in the Astros' lineup on Saturday, one day after expressing concern for playing through a sore hamstring. Gonzalez said he doesn't feel any pain when he walks, but he was admittedly nervous about hurting himself any worse.
"That's the whole thing: If I get worse, it's pretty much like I'm done for the season," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to be careful."
He said if he hits a grounder or fly ball, then he'll be sure to tend to his leg more carefully. If he hits a ball into the gap or he's on base and someone else gets a base hit, then it's a different story.
"If I have that situation I will give my 100 percent," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully won't have anything bad happen."
Gonzalez, who had two singles on Saturday, did have to use his legs a little in the fifth inning when he tagged up to advance to third on a fly ball to right field. But his hamstring didn't seem to give him any issues and he played the rest of the game.
Marlins: Keeping regulars fresh and rested
Marcell Ozuna had a rare day off on Saturday, as Miami gave its starting center fielder a breather in Houston. Jordany Valdespin started in center field. Giancarlo Stanton was used as the designated hitter, with Reed Johnson starting in right field.
Manager Mike Redmond has been able to shuffle players in and out the first two days against the Astros. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the designated hitter on Friday night, was back behind the plate catching on Saturday.
"Hopefully we can keep it going," Redmond said. "We've talked about needing everyone and different contributors. Hopefully that will continue to happen."
Indeed, Valdespin contributed with a ninth-inning homer that gave the Marlins two more runs of insurance in their 7-3 win.
• Giancarlo Stanton's three-run double in the second inning on Saturday gave him his first multi-RBI game since June 16, a span of 33 games.
• With three more hits on Saturday, Houston's Jose Altuve enters Sunday's game with 145 hits through 104 games, putting him on pace for 225 hits this season. The mark would break Craig Biggio's record of 210 hits in a season.
• The Astros are 4-9 against the National League this season.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.