Jacob Turner gave up four runs in five innings Tuesday, a performance described by manager Mike Redmond as an improvement over the right-hander’s previous starts this spring.
Whether Turner did enough to save his spot in the starting rotation remains to be seen.
“I think he responded well,’’ Redmond said after Miami’s 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium.
“That’s what we were looking for was for him to come out, knowing what’s at stake, and pitch well. I definitely feel much better about that.’’
Turner’s earned-run average dropped to 10.80. His next start will be Sunday in Kissimmee against Houston. That could determine whether he starts the season with the Marlins or in the minor leagues.
Several scouts who follow the Marlins believe Turner will start the season in the minors and that right-hander Kevin Slowey and left-hander Wade LeBlanc are in the best position to win rotation spots.
Redmond said he wants to have his rotation set by next week, the final week of spring training. As of now, only right-handers Ricky Nolasco, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are locks.
Slowey has looked good this spring, posting a 2.63 ERA (four earned runs in 13 2/3 innings).
The Marlins are off Thursday, but Slowey will start a minor-league intrasquad game that afternoon in Jupiter. He’s hoping to build on his last appearance March 16, when he allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets.
“For me to have that confidence that I can focus back in and command the strike zone rather than just control it is something really had kind of eluded me the last year and a half,’’ he said.
Slowey, 27, has an opt-out clause in the minor league contract he signed in January that would allow him to leave the Marlins before camp ends if he isn’t going to win a spot.
LeBlanc is out of minor league options, meaning the Marlins could risk losing him on waivers if they try to assign him to the minor leagues. But he is having a solid spring, too: He hasn’t allowed a run in nine innings.
LeBlanc — who starts today against Washington in Jupiter — has been valuable to the Marlins as a swingman. He was 2-5 with a 3.67 ERA last year in 25 games, including nine starts.
“I like the situation that I’m in,” he said. “I’ve shown them I can throw out of the bullpen or I can start. I feel like that gives them more confidence in me as a part of this team that can help out wherever they need me.’’
But the Marlins aren’t giving up just yet on Turner, who came to Miami last July in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.
He came into his start Tuesday with a 16.20 ERA knowing he had to pitch well: Redmond last week used the word “concerned” several times to describe the team’s assessment of Turner’s spring.
He gave up a lead-off single to Daniel Descalso to start the game then retired the next five. He walked a batter in the second inning but started to get hit hard in the third inning.
Pitcher Shelby Miller and Matt Carpenter hit long fly balls to center — Justin Ruggiano ran them both down with his back to home plate.
Matt Holliday led off the bottom of the fourth with a long fly to right field, where Giancarlo Stanton brought the ball in with a leap at the wall. Allen Craig followed with a home run to center field.
“Obviously I think there were some pitches in the middle inning that I left farther up than I would have liked,’’ said Turner, who was pounded for six runs in one-third of an inning in his first start of the spring, also against St. Louis.
“Personally I felt like I got better every outing mechanically. That’s just coming from me as far as how I feel. Obviously the first one (start) was rough but I feel like I have gotten better each time out.’’
Turner said he didn’t feel any job-security pressure going into his start Tuesday.
“Pressure is not really the word I’d put on it. Obviously there has been times this camp I would have liked to have pitched better than I have,” he said.
Placido Polanco drove in two runs with a single in four-run Miami seventh but it wasn’t enough in a 5-4 loss to St. Louis.
Greg Dobbs started at first base for the Marlins, eent 0-fopr3 and made a costly error. He dropped throw from shortstop, and the runner wound up scoring what turned out to be the go-ahead run.
Cardinals starter Shelby Miller allowed a hit and walked one in four scoreless innings. He ended his stint by retiring 11 in a row.
Juan Pierre had two hits and an RBI for the Marlins.