For two teams with nearly identical records as they begin the month of August, the Reds and Marlins have had very different starts to the second half of the season.
Cincinnati's 3-1 win over Miami in the series opener between the two clubs Thursday night was only its third win in 13 games since the All-Star break, and first road win in its last 10 games away from Great American Ball Park.
The strong starting pitching the Reds had become accustomed to faltered to open the second half, but has produced six consecutive quality starts after Johnny Cueto went seven solid innings on Thursday. Cincinnati's bats, however, have been ice-cold since the break. As a team, the Reds are batting .191 in the last 13 games and are averaging 2.1 runs per game over that span.
Meanwhile, Miami has won six of eight and nine of 14 in the second half, going into a buy mode and trading for right-hander Jarred Cosart from the Astros on Thursday.
Cosart will make his Marlins debut and his first career start against Cincinnati on Friday, and Friday's originally scheduled starter, right-hander Jacob Turner, will return to the bullpen.
Cosart was very good from April 23 to June 6, posting a 2.70 ERA in 12 starts. But so far in July, he's struggled to the tune of an 8.02 ERA in 21 1/3 innings.
"There's a lot of upside to him and his pitching," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "Hopefully he'll be able to come in and help us out. That's key. Only time will tell. We're hoping that he gives us a boost and gets some big wins for us."
The Reds will counter with right-hander Mat Latos, who has never beaten the Marlins. In seven career starts against Miami, the South Florida native is 0-3 with a 5.26 ERA. In his last outing, on Sunday against the Nationals, Latos allowed three runs on three hits, walking a season-high four and fanning a season-high six over six innings.
Latos wasn't happy with home-plate umpire Toby Basner's strike zone, particularly in the three-run Washington fifth inning, but said he should have been better.
"I let a couple things get to me that I shouldn't have," Latos said. "I felt like I made a couple of pitches that hadn't gone the other way earlier in the game, and [Basner] was inconsistent behind the dish. But I'm not going to make any excuses; I flat-out pitched like [garbage] that inning."
Reds: Bruce to be back Friday
Right fielder Jay Bruce, who missed the last three games while on bereavement leave after the passing of his grandfather, is scheduled to be back in the lineup for Cincinnati on Friday.
Bruce is having a difficult season at the plate, batting .215 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs after batting .262 with 30 homers and 109 RBIs in 2013.
Marlins: Hernandez's versatility a plus in trade
The Marlins lost one of their best defensive outfield prospects, Jake Marisnick, in the trade with the Astros, but they acquired one with just as promising talent in rookie Enrique Hernandez.
Since his debut with Houston on July 1, the 22-year-old has hit .284 in 24 games, with four doubles, two triples, a homer and eight RBIs.
What the Marlins like most about Hernandez is his versatility. He can play all over the field (he made five appearances at shortstop and one at second base), although the Astros mostly kept him in the outfield while he was with them.
"This is another piece that we can grow with moving forward," said president of baseball operations Michael Hill. "He's a solid defender wherever we put him."
• The Reds have won six straight against the Marlins, and eight of the last nine meetings, dating back to 2012.
• Giancarlo Stanton's next homer will be the 143rd of his career, which would tie Mike Lowell for third in Marlins franchise history. Hanley Ramirez is second (148) and Dan Uggla is the all-time franchise leader (154).
• Stanton is 4-for-8 with a double and three RBIs against Latos. Garrett Jones has struggled against the right hander, going 4-for-24 (.167) with a home run and nine strikeouts.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.