Braves avoid Marlins' Fernandez in series finale

MIAMI -- The New York Mets, who are engaged with the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals in a fierce battle for the two NL wild-card berths, just caught a bad break.

The Atlanta Braves (63-92), who aren't playing for anything more than pride but have been doing their job competing over the past month, have an easier task Sunday against the Miami Marlins (77-78).

Those are the main repercussions from the Marlins' decision, which was announced Saturday, to move ace Jose Fernandez back one day in their rotation.

Fernandez, who is 29-2 with a 1.49 ERA in his career at Marlins Park, faces the Mets on Monday.

Left-hander Adam Conley (8-6, 3.94 ERA), who hasn't pitched since Aug. 13 because of a finger injury, gets the ball Sunday against Atlanta.

Conley threw a 35-pitch simulated game Wednesday, and that's about how much leash he figures to have Sunday.

"Not very far," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said when asked how long he will allow Conley to go. "We wouldn't be able to do this if we didn't have (expanded rosters and a deep bullpen). Conley's start will be fairly short."

There will be no such restrictions for Braves starter Julio Teheran, who has been Atlanta's best pitcher this season, sporting a 6-10 record and a 3.10 ERA.

But Teheran has struggled this year against the Marlins.

Even though the Braves have easily won the season series against Miami -- it's 11-7 Atlanta entering Sunday -- Teheran is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against Miami this year.

Teheran and the rest of the Braves starters are benefitting from an improved Braves' offense. In the first half of the season, the Braves were last in the majors in OPS. Since the All-Star break, the Braves have the third-best OPS.

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 29 games with his first-inning RBI single Saturday, said fans needed to show patience after Atlanta got off to a horrendous 18-46 start.

The Braves are 44-46 since. They had won seven in a row until a 6-4 loss to Miami on Saturday night. Still, the Braves are 19-13 since Aug. 21.

"For the first couple of weeks, none of us were hitting, and I think our record reflects that," Freeman said. "We had a tough schedule early, and it took us a couple of months to get going.

"I know the fans don't want to hear that, but that's the truth."

While the Braves have been hot, Mattingly has bemoaned his team's win-one, lose-one inconsistency of 2016.

"This is typical of how we have played," he said. "You win three in a row and think you have some momentum, and then you lose three in a row.

"We've only had one decent run all year long. It's hard to say you deserve anything (regarding the playoffs) when you are below .500."