PHILADELPHIA -- On a chilly and windy Thursday afternoon when lefty Caleb Smith had trouble finding the strike zone in a 5-0 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins may have tipped their hand on who will eventually be their fifth starter.Left-hander Jarlin Garcia threw four innings
PHILADELPHIA -- On a chilly and windy Thursday afternoon when lefty Caleb Smith had trouble finding the strike zone in a 5-0 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, the Marlins may have tipped their hand on who will eventually be their fifth starter.
Left-hander Jarlin Garcia threw four innings of relief on Thursday, and the next time he takes the mound could be Wednesday against the Mets at Marlins Park.
Miami currently has four starters and doesn't need a fifth until the series finale with the Mets. Manager Don Mattingly noted after the club's third straight loss that Garcia could be joining the rotation.
"There was a method to our madness with Jarlin, too," Mattingly said. "I think he threw the ball pretty good. He had the one inning where he got into a little trouble. That's where we're at today. You guys can figure the math going forward. We're going to need a guy eventually. We have four in the rotation."
Asked if Garcia could potentially start, Mattingly said: "He could."
All along the intention has been for Garcia to get into the rotation, it's just been a matter of where and when. In Spring Training, he was optioned to Double-A Jacksonville, but injuries leading into Opening Day resulted in him making the club as a long reliever. Thus far, he has allowed two runs in 10 innings. Both tallies came on Maikel Franco's two-run homer in the seventh inning on Thursday, Garcia's final inning.
"It's been difficult, but it hasn't been impossible," Garcia said of his role being in limbo. "I'm just focused on strengthening my arm to go out there and be able to go out there and contribute to the team."
In the Marlins' first road game, which was the Phillies' home opener, they were kept off-balance by Philadelphia starter Nick Pivetta, who struck nine without issuing a walk over 5 2/3 innings.
Smith allowed two hits, three runs and six walks in just three innings and struck out four. Admittedly, the combination of the winds and chilly 46-degree weather made it difficult for him to have a feel for his pitches. He threw 77 pitches.
"It was a struggle pretty much the whole three innings," Smith said. "I've just got to figure something out. That can't happen. I don't know how many walks I had, but that's unacceptable. They didn't earn those, I gave it to them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Give 'em a break: Rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson struck out four times, all on breaking pitches, and the tone was set in the first inning. Pivetta fanned the 23-year-old with a curveball after throwing three straight four-seam fastballs to lead off the game. According to Statcast™, of the 17 pitches Brinson saw, only five were four-seam fastballs. The next three times he struck out, it came on sliders.
Noted veteran second baseman Starlin Castro, who saw some fastballs: "Today, [Pivetta] showed me the fastball. He showed me the curveball and slider, too. But not like those younger guys. We've got to keep it short. If you show you can't hit that [breaking] pitch, they're going to keep throwing it."
Low traffic on the bases: The only inning the Marlins had more than one baserunner was the fourth. At the time, they trailed 3-0 and had a chance to get back into the game off Pivetta. Justin Bour singled with two outs and went to third on Brian Anderson's double to right. But the potential rally ended when Cameron Maybin struck out.
"We just didn't really get enough going offensively to do anything," Mattingly said. "We didn't really have a lot of action."
"[Garcia] did an amazing job. He picked me up. I'm sorry that happened. I put him in that situation. He did his job. He went out there, and he battled and gave us a chance." -- Smith
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Game-time temperature was 46 degrees, making Thursday the coldest game the Marlins have played at Philadelphia since April 17, 2003, when it was 43 degrees.
The Phillies walked nine times. It is the first time they walked nine-plus times in a nine-inning game since July 23, 2012, when they walked nine times against the Brewers. They last walked 10 times in a nine-inning game on Sept. 14, 2010, in Miami.
Marlins: The series resumes on Saturday, after being off on Friday, and Dillon Peters gets the nod for the 6:05 p.m. ET contest at Citizens Bank Park. The lefty was called up last September, and made two starts against Philadelphia. In 13 innings, he had 12 strikeouts and a 1.38 ERA.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.