The Marlins will add yet another young arm to their rotation on Thursday night, when Henderson Alvarez makes his season debut against the Braves. The 23-year-old Alvarez joins a rotation that already includes three 20-somethings in rookie Jose Fernandez (20), Jacob Turner (22) and Nathan Eovaldi (23).
Alvarez, who came to Miami via November's blockbuster trade with Toronto, will finally get a chance to show the Marlins what he can do after beginning the season on the 60-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation.
"We don't really know what we're going to get out of him, because we only got to see him a couple of times in Spring Training," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "I think there is a little bit of an unknown in how he is going to pitch for us, because we didn't see him pitch much before he got hurt."
Similar to how he was handled during rehab stints with Class A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, the Marlins will keep a close eye on Alvarez, who will be on an 85-pitch limit.
"I think we'll kind of handle him like we have the other guys," Redmond said. "We'll see how he does and how his pitches are and how much he has to grind."
If the way Alvarez threw during his rehab assignment is any indication, the right-hander has a lot to offer. Opposing hitters batted only .169 (14-for-83) against him.
Alvarez was recently named the Southern League's Pitcher of the Week after giving up only five hits and striking out 13 batters in 14 1/3 scoreless innings with the Suns.
"I know seeing him the few times that I had when he was in Toronto, this is a young kid who can throw strikes, and he logged a lot of innings," Redmond said. "He can win games. I think he will be a big help for us as another young arm who knows how to pitch."
Alvarez will square off against Braves starter Julio Teheran, who is enjoying a stellar rookie season in Atlanta's formidable starting rotation. Teheran sports a 6-4 record and a 3.12 ERA. His 10 quality starts rank second among MLB rookies behind Dodgers hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu's 13.
Braves: Teheran making batters whiff
Many batters try to make contact against Teheran, but few have succeeded as of late. Teheran has fanned batters more frequently since the final day of May.
He has recorded eight or more strikeouts in four of his past six starts, including double-digit efforts with 11 against the Pirates on June 5, and 10 against the D-backs during his most recent start last Friday.
Teheran ranks second among Braves starters with 7.65 strikeouts per nine innings, and he has fanned 10.6 batters per nine innings in his past six outings.
The Marlins are good candidates to potentially put a dent in Teheran's torrid strikeout rate. Only two National League teams have struck out fewer times than Miami.
"He's got swing-and-miss stuff, which is a good thing to have," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We knew that, we saw the arm.
"And the thing that I've kind of been pleasantly surprised with him is he pitches at 92-93 [mph], but there's been some times where all of a sudden, that radar goes up to 95 certain times over the course of the game. So he has that in his arsenal."
Marlins: Alvarez getting a crack at batting
Alvarez will face Teheran in his first MLB at-bat on Thursday as part of his National League debut. Alvarez never got a chance to hit in two seasons with the Blue Jays.
However, a three-run homer by Alvarez during a rehab game with Jacksonville might be an indication that the Venezuelan will do just fine offensively.
"We were excited," Suns manager Andy Barkett said of the homer. "Any time the pitcher can come up and hit one, it helps you out a lot."
Alvarez finished 0-for-3 during Spring Training, grounding out to third base three times. If he can deliver even some of the power he displayed at Double-A, perhaps Alvarez can provide a boost to Miami's pitchers, who are batting .101 and tied for last in the NL with only three RBIs.
• Logan Morrison sat out Wednesday's game after a collision with Braves pitcher Kris Medlen at first base on Tuesday left him shaken up. The Marlins first baseman is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday.
• With a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday, Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis notched his fifth straight game with two or more RBIs, tying Hanley Ramirez's franchise record set in June 2009.
• Chris Johnson finished Wednesday's game 2-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the ninth, improving his batting average since May 13 to .355 (44-for-124).
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.