MIAMI -- On July 3, Andrew Cashner came back from the disabled list after dealing with a strained neck.
Now the Miami Marlins -- who acquired Cashner from the San Diego Padres on Friday -- are hoping he is a pain in the neck for opponents. That starts with Sunday's game, when he makes his Marlins debut against St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez (10-6, 2.87 ERA).
The Marlins defeated the Cardinals 11-0 on Saturday night, leaving the teams tied with identical records of 56-48 as they battle for the second and final NL wild-card playoff berth.
But the loss may have been damaging for the Marlins because starter Colin Rea left after 3 1/3 innings because of an elbow injury
Rea's injury puts even more stress on a Marlins' rotation that is already without Wei-Yin Chen, who is on the disabled list because of an elbow injury.
Cashner, who was the Chicago Cubs' first-round pick -- 19th overall in 2008 -- can make the Marlins feel a lot better about their rotation with a big-time start Sunday.
With an average fastball of 94 mph, Cashner has power stuff, but he is only 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA this season. He is flirting with what would be his second straight year with an ERA higher than 4.30 and his third consecutive losing season.
Since 2014, Cashner is 15-30. So it seems a bit foolish to count on Cashner to be some sort of savior.
"This is a playoff team," Marlins general manager Michael Hill said Friday.
But the Marlins will likely have to beat out the Cardinals to get a wild-card playoff berth.
The Cardinals are about to get healthier with the anticipated return of three players in the next few days. But there are some tough decisions pending when it comes to playing time and who gets shipped out.
Cardinals first baseman Brandon Moss (sprained left ankle) and third baseman Jhonny Peralta (left thumb) are set to return from the disabled list by Tuesday's game at the Cincinnati Reds.
In addition, Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter (right oblique) will begin a rehab assignment Sunday at Double-A Springfield. He's due back Friday.
Carpenter, who has a team-high .988 OPS, figures to reclaim his starting job at second.
Peralta (.674 OPS), who has struggled this year, could play off the bench, and a contract release is not out of the question. The Cardinals seemingly have better options at third, including Greg Garcia (.870 OPS) and Jedd Gyorko (.796 OPS, 14 homers).
Moss (.910 OPS) figures to get his job back at first base, but Matt Adams (.779 OPS, 12 homers) has played well there and the Cardinals will try to get him time as well.
With the new arrivals, the Cardinals will have to move out three players. Candidates include outfielder Randall Grichuk (.702 OPS) and infielder Kolten Wong (.650 OPS).
Backup outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker (.787 OPS) has seemingly earned his spot, but could be sent to the minors as well.