(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Marlins envision a future rotation anchored by Jose Fernandez and Andrew Heaney, the former a quickly-blossoming ace and the other currently considered one of the top prospects in the game.
The Marlins are next ready to debut Heaney, who takes the mound on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series with the New York Mets.
Heaney is regarded as the Marlins' top arm in their system and one of the best left-handed prospects in baseball. He comes to the majors having posted a career 2.31 earned run average in the minors over 38 games, going 7-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 appearances this year across both Double and Triple-A.
Miami is going with some young arms in its rotation despite the fact it is right in the hunt for first place in the NL East. Anthony DeSclafani got a start earlier this week and now Heaney will be used to help fill a rotation that is without Fernandez for the rest of the season because of Tommy John surgery.
"Jose Fernandez is Jose Fernandez, and Andrew Heaney is Andrew Heaney," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said on Miami's website. "We love them both and we're glad that we have them both. We're going to allow Andrew to grow and hopefully have a lot of success at the major league level."
New York will counter Heaney, who turned 23 on June 5, with another former top prospect in Zack Wheeler.
Wheeler, though, is just 2-7 with a 4.38 ERA on the year and has struggled in back-to-back losses. He followed up 6 2/3 scoreless innings of work versus the Chicago Cubs with a 6-4 loss to San Francisco on June 8, touched for four runs over 3 2/3 frames.
The right-hander then lasted only five innings on Saturday against San Diego, charged again with four runs on six hits and three walks in a 5-0 defeat.
The 24-year-old Wheeler has been excellent in two outings against the Marlins this season despite not getting a decision. In 12 innings, he has yielded just one run and struck out 17.
The young Wheeler gets the start after 41-year-old Bartolo Colon helped the Mets avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 3-2 win on Wednesday.
Colon worked eight innings, scattering a run and four hits while also smacking a double for his first hit since 2005.
"Bartolo is a workhorse," remarked Eric Young about the Mets' hurler. "It's a testament to him, still able to do it at his age."
The Marlins, meanwhile, dropped a 6-1 decision to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday for their fifth loss in seven games.
Of more concern was the exit of slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who homered in the setback before later suffering a bruised left wrist. He is day-to-day, but it is possible he is in the lineup for this game.
"We need this guy for the long haul," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He wanted to stay in, but I'm thinking about tomorrow and the next day."
Miami also is set to have catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the lineup. He landed on the seven-day concussion disabled list on June 1 before getting transferred to the 15-day DL.
The Marlins have won five in a row and eight of their last 10 at home versus the Mets, including a three-game sweep this season from May 5-7.