MIAMI -- Right-hander Miles Mikolas, who grew up less than two hours away from Marlins Park, returns home Tuesday night.
Mikolas, who is from Jupiter, Fla., and played collegiately at NCAA Division II powerhouse Nova Southeastern University, is having a breakthrough season.
After pitching in Japan the past three years, Mikolas is 11-3 with a 2.75 ERA for the St. Louis Cardinals (58-55), who play the middle contest of a three-contest set at the last-place Miami Marlins (47-67) on Tuesday.
The Cardinals are 15-7 when Mikolas pitches for them, and his 15 quality starts this year lead the team.
Mikolas said pitching in Japan was a great experience, turning his career back in the right direction.
"I would have been happy being successful for the rest of my career in Japan," Mikolas told the media recently. "I know guys who have had great careers there, setting themselves up for retirement. I just wanted to play for as long as I could, wherever I could."
Mikolas is well on his way, and has faced the Marlins once this year, beating them 4-1 in St. Louis on June 7. He allowed three hits, one walk and an unearned run in seven innings.
The Cardinals have won five of the past six games pitched by Mikolas, who turns 30 on Aug. 23.
Miami will counter with rookie right-hander Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.67 ERA), who will make his seventh start in the majors.
Lopez has three quality starts this year, but Miami is 2-4 when he is on the mound.
Beyond the starting pitchers, the Marlins -- who snapped a six-game losing streak with Monday's win over St. Louis -- has a significant problem at closer.
Kyle Barraclough, who has 10 saves this season and was nearly unhittable in April (2.13 ERA in 12 appearances), May (0.77 ERA in 12 appearances) and June (0.00 ERA in 12 appearances), has fallen apart.
Since July 1, Barraclough has an 11.82 ERA in 13 appearances, and failed to nail down a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning Monday. He allowed four of the five batters he faced to get on base, getting pulled after issuing an RBI walk to Matt Carpenter.
"He got a little out of sorts with his command," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Barraclough.
Javy Guerra then came in and got a double play ball on two pitches, retiring dangerous Yadier Molina and earning his first save since 2014.
Barraclough, who has allowed 11 walks and four homers in those 10 2/3 innings, has likely lost his job. If Miami has a lead in the ninth Tuesday, Drew Steckenrider would be the likely closer, although Guerra and Tayron Guerrero are also candidates.
"We're not going to sit here and make any decisions (on closer)," Mattingly said. "We just won a game, and we wouldn't do anything without talking to everybody."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals (58-55), who have won three consecutive series, need to prevail Tuesday and Wednesday to keep that streak alive.
Cardinals left fielder Marcell Ozuna, playing his first game as the opponent at Marlins Park on Monday, did his part, going 3-for-4.
Carpenter, whose 29 homers are tied for the National League lead, went 1-for-4 with that RBI walk against Barraclough.