The right-hander tries for a fourth straight victory while looking to help the Marlins avoid a third consecutive loss and even their series with the NL West-leading San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Florida (35-38) fell to 1-2 under interim manager Edwin Rodriguez after a 3-0 loss to San Diego on Friday.
While Rodriguez is in charge for now, reports continue to surface that veteran manager Bobby Valentine remains the frontrunner to permanently replace the recently fired Fredi Gonzalez. However, talks between Valentine and the team were “slowing down” temporarily.
Former Marlins and current Arizona third base coach Bo Porter also appears to be a candidate for the job.
“All I can control is the present time,” Rodriguez said. “After that, who knows?”
The present has a chance to be pretty good for the Marlins with Johnson taking the ball Saturday.
Among the major league leaders in ERA, Johnson (8-2, 1.80 ERA) has allowed four earned runs and struck out 51 batters in 57 innings while going 5-1 in his last eight starts.
Johnson gave up a run and struck out nine in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“He’s very good,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in either league.”
Johnson has been very good versus San Diego, going 1-0 with an 0.64 ERA in two starts. He tossed a three-hitter and struck out 12 in a 10-1 home victory over the Padres on April 26.
The Padres (43-30) are playing well enough to make matters tough on Johnson this time.
Venable has homered three times in five games, all coming after a 45-game stretch without one.
“I’ve been getting some good pitches to hit lately,” said Venable, who has 10 RBIs in his last six games.
Headley is batting .319 lifetime against the Marlins, but is 0 for 4 versus Johnson.
Though Garland has a 6.38 ERA over his last four starts overall, he’s allowed three earned runs and struck out 18 in 20 innings while winning his last three starts against Florida.
The right-hander gave up a run, three hits and struck out 10 in six innings of a 4-1 win over the Marlins on April 27.