ATLANTA -- Two young right-handed pitchers trying to carve out their niche in the starting rotation face off Tuesday when the Atlanta Braves host the Miami Marlins at Turner Field.
The Braves will start Matt Wisler (6-11, 4.76) and the Marlins will use Jake Esch (0-1, 4.82) in the second game of a three-game series that will be Miami's final appearance at Turner Field.
The Braves (56-88) won the first game of the series 12-3 on Monday. Atlanta is 9-4 against the Marlins this season, 5-1 in Atlanta. Miami (71-73) was unable to make up ground in the wild-card race on a night when St. Louis and New York both lost.
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Wisler has more history on his side. He was expected to be one of Atlanta's top-of-the-rotation starters this season, only to go through an extended bad spell that got him banished to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Wisler went to the minors, corrected a few mechanical issues, cleared his mind and came back looking like his old self. In two starts since being recalled, Wisler is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 14 in 14 innings.
But Wisler complained of pain in his side and the club skipped his start to give him additional time to recover. He showed no problems in two interim bullpen sessions, but is likely to be on a short leash on Tuesday.
"We didn't see anything that would keep him making his start," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Esch can't afford to waste any opportunities to impress at the major league level. The Georgia Tech graduate signed with the Marlins in 2011 and has gradually climbed his way up the ladder to make the majors this season.
Esch spent most of the season at Double-A Jacksonville and went 10-9 with a 4.03 in 22 starts. He was recalled to Triple-A New Orleans, going 2-1 with a 5.70 ERA, before being summoned to the majors when David Phelps had to be placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Esch has made two starts for the Marlins since being recalled. He is 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA. He lost his last start against Philadelphia on Sept. 5 when he allowed three runs and struck out six in five innings. He got in trouble after hitting Aaron Altherr with a pitch and Freddy Galvis followed with a two-run homer.
"If we get it below the zone in that situation, he probably swings of the top of it," Esch said. "Maybe he hits a ground ball or something. I just made a mistake."
The Marlins are expected to get right-hander Wei-Yin Chen back within the next week. He has been on the disabled list since July 25 with a left elbow strain. Chen pitched his final simulated game and Miami manager Don Mattingly said he was "getting close."
"We've got some open slots coming up and we'll drop him into one of those," Mattingly said.