NEW YORK -- With Mike Dunn on the disabled list and it not looking like he will return this weekend, Marlins manager Don Mattingly is exploring new ways to patch up the back end of his bullpen.
A probable candidate to move from long relief into a setup position is right-hander David Phelps, who showed his versatility last Thursday by tossing four scoreless relief innings in a 6-4 win over Washington at Nationals Park.
After three days of rest, Phelps is again available, and Mattingly is considering the right-hander to be part of the late-inning mix. The options dwindled with Carter Capps lost for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Dunn, a lefty, is on the DL with an elbow strain.
"I'd like to be able to kind of stabilize the back end," Mattingly said. "We lose Carter, and [we're] trying to figure out that back end and be consistent. Yesterday was really kind of [Phelps'] spot, honestly. But he threw four innings two days earlier, and yesterday was not going to be his day."
The Marlins lost 4-2 at Washington on Sunday, with the Nationals scoring three times in the seventh.
"I'd like to get him to that role I can have him available more than once in a while," Mattingly said. "I'd like to keep him as available as much as possible."
"[Phelps] has been throwing the ball really well. He threw it good in the spring. I remember standing in with him, and I'm thinking, 'His stuff is really good.'"
As for Dunn, the team was originally hopeful the southpaw would be ready by Friday, the series opener at home against the Braves.
Dunn threw a bullpen session on Sunday, and before he is reinstated, he will pitch in rehab assignment games.
"He's been trying to creep forward," Mattingly said. "He would definitely kind of have to work his way back, and we'll make sure he can kind of do different things.
"We haven't really set a timetable other than we'll see how he is coming out of the 'pen. It depends on how that goes, and then we'll have to make more decisions."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.