Marlins option Nicolino, select contract of Clemens

Marlins option Nicolino, select contract of Clemens

MIAMI -- Paul Clemens knew the inevitable question was coming, and he expects to be asked many more times. To set the record straight, the 28-year-old right-hander is not related to Roger Clemens.

When Clemens, however, was in the Astros' system, he did meet and work with Roger, but the association ends there. After having his contract selected by the Marlins on Sunday, Paul Clemens looks to make the best of another Major League chance when he starts on Monday against the Rockies at Marlins Park.

Clemens was brought up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace lefty Justin Nicolino, who was optioned to the Zephyrs. In 10 starts with Miami, Nicolino posted a 2-4 record with a 5.17 ERA.

During his Astros days, Clemens spoke with Roger Clemens.

"I had the pleasure of meeting him and working with him in Houston, and he really liked my arm," Paul said. "He was really good to me."

Clemens said he is asked all the time if he is related to the Rocket.

"I'll get asked all kinds of questions," Clemens said. "Is he your uncle, brother, dad, cousin, grandfather? But no relation."

Clemens strikes out Grichuk

Clemens went 6-4 with a 4.30 ERA in 14 starts at New Orleans, and he was 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in his past three starts for New Orleans.

"Just come up here with an aggressive mind state, and just attack hitters," Clemens said of his goal. "Make quality pitches, and when I'm ahead, put them away."

In parts of 2013-14, the right-hander was with the Astros, compiling a 4-8 record with a 5.51 ERA in 98 innings. In 2013, he was 4-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 35 appearances (five starts). In 2014, he went 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 13 relief outings.

His last big league start came on Sept. 28, 2013, against the Yankees.

The Marlins are thin on big league-ready starting pitching options. Jarred Cosart, who opened the season in the rotation, is currently on the Minor League disabled list with an oblique strain. Cosart is scheduled to throw off the mound in Jupiter, Fla., on Monday as he builds back up.

Miami is already exploring potential trade options for either a starter or a reliever. If the right move is available now, the club wouldn't hesitate making a deal, well ahead of the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

But teams willing to part with pitching also are measuring interest, so nothing appears close.

Nicolino, meanwhile, is going through a rough patch.

Since winning his first two starts after he was recalled from New Orleans on April 27, the left-hander was 0-4 with a 5.95 ERA in eight starts and hadn't won a game since May 3.

"We like a lot of things about Nico, just felt like it wasn't quite good enough," manager Don Mattingly said. "He was missing spots and things that he can't do. Felt like it was the right time to give Paul a shot. He's been throwing the ball good. It gives Nico a breather. As we told him last night as he exits, we know he's gonna be back. He's gonna be a part of what we're doing. You can't really have enough starter depth as the season unfolds. We're gonna need him. It gives him a chance to work on his stuff and improve. He'll be ready when we call his name again."

Among pitchers with 50 or more innings logged, Nicolino's 4.37 strikeouts per nine innings were the lowest in the Major Leagues. The 24-year-old surrendered at least 10 hits and five runs in his last two outings.

"It's very frustrating when you're sitting there thinking you want to contribute as well," Nicolino said on Saturday. "It's tough when your guys are giving you runs and you put them right back up."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.