Each start holds importance for Jerad Eickhoff's role in the Philadelphia Phillies' future rotation, but the rookie right-hander is trying to keep his mind on this season's final two weeks.
Eickhoff will make his sixth start Saturday night against fellow rookie Ryan Weber as the last-place Phillies try to snap a four-game losing streak against the Atlanta Braves in a matchup of MLB's two worst teams at Turner Field.
Eickhoff (1-3, 3.90 ERA) has lost his last three decisions, but four quality starts since his promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Aug. 21 has the Phillies (56-92) perhaps looking to keep him in the rotation next year.
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At the moment, though, Eickhoff is focused on his final three starts in 2015.
"Right now, I'm not really thinking about it or worried about it," he told MLB's official website. "I'm trying to go every five days, or whenever they tell me to throw, and go as long as I can. I think that's all I can do."
Eickhoff is one of four rookies getting a shot in the Phillies' rotation late in the season, and he and Aaron Nola are favorites to crack next year's group. He will try to help Philadelphia win for just the fourth time in 16 games.
Eickhoff won his major league debut but followed with three straight losses, the last of which he allowed six runs in four innings of a 6-2 defeat at Boston. He rebounded his last time out, though, by holding the Chicago Cubs to three hits and one run in seven innings of a 7-5 win last Saturday. Eickhoff struck out eight and walked three.
Philadelphia hopes to wake up an offense that has scored three runs in its last three games and struck out 53 times in the past four. The Phillies stranded 12 runners and left the bases loaded in the ninth inning during Friday's series-opening 2-1 loss.
''We're not getting the big hits we should get,'' interim manager Pete Mackanin said. ''The only way we're scoring is home runs and we're not a home-run hitting team.''
Weber (0-1, 4.38) will try to help Atlanta (58-90) string together two wins for the first time since a three-game run Aug. 7-8.
He also had that chance against the Phillies in his first start on Sept. 8, but was a tough-luck loser, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings in a 5-0 defeat.
The right-hander wasn't as sharp against the New York Mets on Sunday, yielding four runs in 6 1-3 innings but left without a decision in a 10-7 loss. Weber retired 11 of 14 from the third inning through the sixth but left two runners on in the seventh that later scored.
"I wanted to pitch against a first-place team, and I proved to myself that I could pitch well against a first-place team," Weber said.
The Braves have won four of the last five against the Phillies, batting .315 and outscoring them 23-11.