After getting shelled to begin the month, Tom Koehler got back to basics and has had good results - though it hasn't shown up in the win column for either him or his club.
The right-hander seeks another solid outing for the Miami Marlins when they go for a series win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday.
Koehler (2-3, 5.14 ERA) put in the shortest start of his career with 2 1/3 dreadful innings in a 14-5 loss to Milwaukee on May 1. He allowed eight runs and eight hits - two of them homers - while laboring through 78 pitches.
"I didn't give the team a chance to win," Koehler told MLB's website. "I expect a lot more from myself. I felt like that was a flat out embarrassing performance."
Koehler, who hasn't won since April 26, seems to have used it as motivation and has allowed two runs over his previous 12 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts. He hadn't given up fewer than two earned runs in back-to-back starts since July.
"Honestly, I just tried to forget everything that I'd been doing and just get back to attacking the zone, getting into a good rhythm and working the gameplan," he said.
He had a season-best eight strikeouts in seven innings against the Phillies (23-17) on May 7 and left with a 3-1 lead before the bullpen blew it in a 4-3 loss. He then showed some grit by overcoming a career high-tying five walks over 5 2/3 against Washington on Friday in a game Miami (21-18) lost 5-3 with another poor relief effort.
Koehler's six career starts with five walks are interesting because he's managed to work around the free passes with two earned runs or less allowed in four of them.
He is 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 10 career starts against Philadelphia. Ryan Howard has gone 5 for 18 with five strikeouts and four walks in the matchup, while Freddy Galvis has also struck out five times against Koehler in 19 career at-bats.
The pitcher who opposed Koehler on May 7 will be opposite him again in this one and is coming off a strong outing.
Jeremy Hellickson (3-2, 4.12) gave up three runs and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in the win over the Marlins and followed it with seven innings of two-run ball against Cincinnati on Friday. Both runs were unearned for the right-hander, who surrendered four hits with a season-best nine strikeouts in the 3-2 victory.
"My fastball command was a lot better than it's been," said Hellickson, who kept the ball in the yard after allowing five home runs over his previous two starts. "That was probably the best changeup I've had this year, too."
He is 0-1 with a 4.18 ERA in five starts against Miami. Ichiro Suzuki is the only Marlins batter who's seen a good deal of Hellickson from their time in the AL and is 4 for 12 in the matchup. Giancarlo Stanton has struck out four times in five at-bats.
Hellickson will try to give the Phillies another quality outing after six pitchers combined to strike out 17 Marlins in Tuesday's 3-1 victory. Starter Vince Velasquez got 10 of those strikeouts in five innings.
Miami center fielder Marcell Ozuna went 0 for 3 to end a 16-game hitting streak.