There have been plenty of questions asked the past week about Dan Haren's back issues, but Haren said he's fine and ready to go for Monday night's series opener between the Dodgers and Marlins, who will start Tom Koehler.
Manager Don Mattingly revealed after Haren's last start in Washington, a loss, that he had a little back stiffness. Haren might not remember the last time he didn't have some back stiffness.
But he's been something of a lifeline for the Dodgers' rotation this year, going 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA when all the club was hoping for after signing him was a fourth starter. He's holding opposing hitters to a .257 batting average and .213 with runners in scoring position. In three starts at Dodger Stadium, he's 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA.
Haren didn't face the Marlins last week in Miami, and he's 1-6 lifetime against them in nine starts, the one win being a four-hit shutout in 2009 while with Arizona. Meanwhile, Koehler has been up to the challenge against some quality opponents, including the Braves, Nationals and Dodgers.
On May 2, Koehler shut down L.A. at Marlins Park in a 6-3 Miami win. The right-hander threw seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits while striking out four.
"They've a quality lineup from top to bottom," Koehler said. "So you want to go out there and get outs as quickly as possible and keep our defense off the field, and then try to get into a groove offensively. The longer we stay on the field, the tougher it's going to be to score runs."
After an impressive Spring Training, where he won the fifth-starter spot, Koehler has carried over the success into the season. Six of his seven outings have been quality starts -- a minimum of six innings without allowing more than three earned runs.
Koehler has been a mainstay in Miami's rotation since May 2013. He opened last season throwing out of the bullpen, before his first start came on May 12, on Mother's Day, at Dodger Stadium.
"It's kind of come full circle," Koehler said.
Marlins: Looking to slow down Gordon
Even though the Marlins were able to take two of three from the Dodgers at Marlins Park earlier in the month, they were not able to contain Dee Gordon. The speedy Dodgers second baseman went 9-for-15 (.600) in the series with four runs scored and four stolen bases. He was caught twice attempting to steal. But he was certainly disruptive.
"I don't think we managed him. He got on base a lot and got a lot of hits," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
To gain success in Los Angeles, Miami will look to do a better job of slowing Gordon down.
"He's on fire right now," Redmond said. "He's definitely a guy that we're going to have to try to keep in check. He's kind of the catalyst of that offense. They do have a lot of weapons, but the way you keep those guys in check is to keep them off the bases. If we're able to do that, we should be in good shape."
Dodgers: Ethier or Crawford?
With three hits Sunday, Andre Ethier raised his average to .264, shooting past Carl Crawford's .255. That is interesting, because Ethier spent the previous three games out of the starting lineup, twice yielding left field to Crawford because Mattingly felt Crawford was swinging the bat better. It's all part of the ongoing drama over having too many outfielders who feel they should start.
Mattingly has settled on Yasiel Puig in right and Matt Kemp in center, with Ethier and Crawford fighting for playing time in left field against right-handed pitching, and Scott Van Slyke starting against lefties.
• Giancarlo Stanton has enjoyed success against Haren, going 4-for-10 with a homer and a double in his career. Christian Yelich is 3-for-5 off the Dodgers right-hander.
• Stanton extended his hitting streak to 13 games, a career high, on Sunday at San Diego.
• Puig extended his hitting streak to 11 games Sunday with a sixth-inning home run.
• Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe figures to either return to the lineup in a day or two or be placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.