NEW YORK -- One of the expected September callups for the Marlins has joined the team a couple of days early. Right-hander Austin Brice was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Monday, and lefty Justin Nicolino was optioned to the Zephyrs.
The move isn't surprising, because Nicolino was brought up as a spot starter to face the Padres on Sunday at Marlins Park. The 24-year-old was filling in for Andrew Cashner, who was scratched due to a blister.
But Cashner is expected to be ready to go on Friday at Cleveland. So rather than carry a sixth starter for the four-game series at the Mets, which began on Monday, Brice was added for bullpen depth.
Nicolino remains a candidate to be called up in September.
Brice, a converted starter, made his lone big league appearance against the White Sox on Aug. 12, striking out two in a clean inning. He opened the season at Double-A Jacksonville as a starter, but was converted to the bullpen.
Brice, 24, has pitched at Double-A and Triple-A with a combined 2.74 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 30 walks in 102 innings. He's appeared in 32 combined Minor League games with 13 starts.
A candidate to throw multiple innings, Brice's fastball average is 96.25 mph, according to Pitch-f/x.
Nicolino took a tough-luck 3-1 loss to the Padres on Sunday, giving up three runs in six innings. In 13 big league starts this year, he is 2-6 with a 5.48 ERA.
On Thursday, the September callup period begins, and the Marlins are expected to promote several pitchers for depth for their final playoff push.
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.