Marlins turn to Zach Thompson in rubber match vs. Braves

MLB

Two hot pitchers will be on the mound when the visiting Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves complete their three-game series on Sunday afternoon.

Miami rookie Zach Thompson (2-2, 1.50 ERA) will be opposed by Atlanta veteran Charlie Morton (7-3, 3.74) in the rubber match between the two National League East rivals. The Marlins have won six of nine games against the Braves this season.

Thompson has been a good addition to the excellent Marlins’ rotation. He has not allowed more than two runs in any outing since being promoted from the minors. He was signed as a minor league free agent in the offseason after spending six seasons in the Chicago White Sox organization.

The right-hander is coming off his longest outing, a six-inning win against Washington that saw him allow two runs (one earned) on four hits with 11 strikeouts. The last Marlins pitcher with 11-plus punchouts was Caleb Smith on May 7, 2019.

Thompson faced the Braves on June 12 and earned his first career win by throwing five shutout innings, allowing four hits and six strikeouts.

“Being able to give my team a winning opportunity is all I’m really trying to do,” Thompson said. “As long as I can keep going and keep us in a good spot to win a ballgame, then that’s really important for me. Hopefully I can continue to go longer in the games, so six innings can kind of be normal.”

Morton is 5-1 in his last seven starts, but wasn’t involved in the decision on Tuesday against the New York Mets. He allowed three runs to see his streak of 20 2/3 scoreless innings end that night.

Morton will be making his 16th career start against the Marlins. He is 7-5 with a 4.27 ERA against Miami. He faced the Marlins on June 11 and took the loss after permitting four runs in four innings.

Both teams have enjoyed stellar work from their starters.

Over the past 17 games, the Atlanta rotation owns a 2.76 ERA (28 earned runs in 91 1/3 innings) and has allowed just seven home runs. Since allowing 28 homers in their first 26 games, Atlanta starters have yielded 30 homers in 56 games.

Miami’s top three starters — Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers — have combined for a 2.70 ERA with 301 strikeouts in 296 innings. Only seven times has a member of that trio allowed more than three runs. Alcantara gave up one unearned run in six innings in Saturday’s 3-2 win.

“(Alcantara) plays catch at 100 mph,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “His stuff is live. He’s a really good pitcher, just effortless. Seems like once he gets loose he can stay out there and throw all day.”

The Marlins made a roster move on Saturday, acquiring David Hess from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for fellow right-hander Justin Sterner and cash considerations.

Hess has spent the season with Triple-A Durham, compiling a 5-1 record with a 2.81 ERA in 13 appearances. He spent 2018-2020 with Baltimore and went 4-20 with a 5.86 ERA.

–Field Level Media

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