ATLANTA -- Acquiring Fernando Rodney from the Padres on Thursday reshaped the Marlins' bullpen, but one reliever not impacted by the trade is Mike Dunn.
The lone left-hander in the bullpen, Dunn is being given every opportunity to work through his early-season struggles. The Marlins feel that is only right considering the fact he opened the season on the disabled list.
Dunn pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out one batter in Saturday's 9-1 loss to the Braves.
"Your past track record tells you he's going to have success," manager Don Mattingly said. "The ball is coming out of his hand OK. His velocity is up. I think we do have to look at him like a guy we may have rushed a little bit, to get him back and not let him get the number of rehab starts he probably needed to get sharp."
Dunn missed time late in Spring Training due to a left forearm strain, which landed him on the disabled list. He was brought back on May 31 after making just three rehab assignment appearances at Class A Advanced Jupiter.
"He didn't really have a full Spring Training," Mattingly said. "I think we're probably at fault here, a little bit."
Miami picked up the pace to get Dunn back because there weren't many left-handed relief options.
Dunn threw just three innings from late March until he returned to Miami. In his first 12 appearances, he has lacked command, posting a 5.40 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP in 8 1/3 innings. But Dunn's velocity is back up. According to Statcast™, his four-seam fastball velocity averages 93.75 mph, with the league average at 92.85 mph.
The slow start aside, Dunn has been one of the organization's most dependable relievers in club history. He came to the Marlins from the Braves in 2011 as part of the Dan Uggla trade.
Dunn is also on the verge of setting the franchise record for appearances by a pitcher. He has been in 366 games, second most by a Marlin. Braden Looper holds the team mark of 368.
Rather than consider making a change of lefty relievers, the Marlins are giving Dunn chances to work through his difficulties.
"I'm sure he doesn't want to make excuses like this," Mattingly said, "but we want to give him a chance to keep working and keep getting himself back together and count on him being a guy for us that is a huge part of our bullpen before the year is over."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.