MIAMI -- If he continues at this rate, Jose Urena could eventually shed the "spot-starter" label and become a fixture in the Marlins' rotation.
The hard-throwing 24-year-old impressed on Sunday for the second consecutive outing since being called up from Triple-A New Orleans. The final score didn't go his way, as the Marlins fell to the Mets, 3-0, at Marlins Park, but Urena is making a case to remain a starter.
"He's basically gone out two times in a row and kept the ball down and did a good job for us," manager Don Mattingly said. "He kept us in both of those games. I think you have to look at him as a guy, at this point, who keeps getting the ball."
Urena, who pitched in relief for the Marlins earlier in the season, gave up one run on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks in six innings. His fastball topped out at 97 mph.
Urena is an interesting option for Miami because he has a power arm, and he could profile in several different roles. He's already been a spot starter and long reliever in the big leagues. He's also a potential late-inning, hard-throwing reliever.
But he has been groomed as a starter, and Sunday was his longest outing of the season.
"I'm just being focused, trying to control the things I can control," Urena said. "I'm trying to make a quality pitch. If something happens, I'd be ready for it."
Most importantly for Urena is he's pounding the zone, throwing strikes and eliminating walks.
In his two starts since joining the rotation, Urena has given up two runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in 11 2/3 innings. He made his first start on Tuesday in Philadelphia, receiving a no-decision in a game Miami won, 2-1.
"I feel a little different," Urena said. "I'm trying to take advantage, pitch by pitch. It feels better."
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.