While Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig has captured much of the hype in the race for National League Rookie of the Year, a handful of pitchers are giving him a run for his money.
Two of those reside in the NL East, and they will square off for the first time on Friday night at Turner Field.
With the Braves hosting the Marlins for the opener of a three-game series, Marlins 21-year-old right-hander Jose Fernandez will get his first shot at Atlanta, the only division foe he has yet to face. Fernandez's opponent will be 22-year-old righty Julio Teheran, making his third start of the year against Miami.
"I'm kind of upset the Marlins haven't shut him down yet," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Fernandez, who's approaching an innings limit and will likely make one more start after Friday. "I'm going to have to call [Marlins owner] Jeffrey Loria and tell him it's a good time to shut down Fernandez."
Fernandez has dominated in his first season, going 10-5 with a 2.30 ERA that would be lower than that of any qualifying rookie since the Yankees' Dave Righetti posted a 2.05 mark in 1981. Fernandez ranks third in the Majors in ERA and second with a .188 opponents' batting average, pretty strong Rookie of the Year credentials.
"I think he's definitely made a case for himself, and as a pitcher, sometimes that's hard for pitchers to do that," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I think that award tends to go towards an everyday type of player. But I think Jose's definitely made a case by the way he's gone out there and pitched. He's been lights-out, and now I think everybody's starting to notice, not just us.
"He's one of the top pitchers in this league, and he will be for many years to come."
Redmond said he caught a lot of good pitchers during his 13-year playing career, but that "maybe as far as pitches and pitch ability, [Fernandez] might be the best, as far as how polished he is at that age." The key, according to Redmond, is Fernandez's confidence and desire to learn and improve.
Fernandez has held the opposition to two runs or fewer in eight consecutive outings, going 5-0 with a 1.33 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 54 innings.
"I was talking about it today: Think about how far he's come from Opening Day, but also how far he's come since the All-Star break," Redmond said. "This kid just continues to find another level and go out there and not surprise us, but just kind of make us watch in amazement."
Teheran (10-7, 3.08 ERA) struggled in his last start, giving up four runs over six innings in a loss to the Cardinals on Saturday. He issued a career-high five walks and tied a career high with two home runs allowed.
"I didn't have my best stuff, but I was battling the whole game and trying to keep my team in the game," Teheran said. "I knew from the first inning that it was going to be a hard day for me. But I knew I had to compete."
Despite that, Teheran owns a 2.59 ERA over his last 22 outings, with 128 strikeouts and 32 walks over 139 innings. In two previous games against Miami, he has allowed seven runs -- but only four earned -- over 12 1/3 innings.
Marlins: Dyson has rough debut
Miami called up right-hander Sam Dyson from Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday and optioned Arquimedes Caminero to New Orleans, giving Redmond another option out of the bullpen. Redmond used four relievers to cover 6 1/3 innings after Wednesday's rain delay knocked out starter Henderson Alvarez.
Dyson posted a 2.61 ERA over five starts for New Orleans, although he struck out only 16 and walked 12 in 31 innings. The 25-year-old, who appeared briefly for the Blue Jays last year, gave up three runs on five hits over two innings in his Miami debut.
• Reliever Ryan Webb suffered a bruised back on Thursday when he was struck by a line drive off the bat of Washington's Scott Hairston during batting practice. Webb likely was unavailable anyways, having thrown 3 1/3 innings the night before.
Braves: J. Upton exits early
Justin Upton started Thursday's game against the Indians 2-for-2, but in his third at-bat, he was hit on the left hand by a 92-mph fastball from Ubaldo Jimenez and had to leave. X-rays were negative, and Upton was diagnosed with a contusion, leaving him day to day.
The Braves already have outfielders Jason Heyward and Reed Johnson on the disabled list and recently got B.J. Upton back from the DL.
• Although Freddie Freeman entered Thursday's game upon Upton's exit, he was not in the starting lineup in order to rest a sore right knee. The injury is not considered serious, and manager Fredi Gonzalez already was planning to start Freeman on Friday.
• The Braves have won four straight games, while the Marlins have lost four straight.
• Atlanta leads the season series, 8-4, but is only 3-3 at Turner Field against Miami. The Braves are 47-18 overall at home.