After opening the year in the Padres' bullpen, Bass has pitched to a 2.31 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks in 23 1/3 innings of work since sliding into the rotation. Coming off a start in which Bass retired the first 17 batters he faced in an eight-inning (career high), two-run, eight-strikeout performance in San Francisco, his catcher Nick Hundley says the changes are evident.
"He's evolved from throwing to a pitcher," Hundley said. "He was a guy who first would rear back and throw it, to a pitcher -- a guy who is using all of his pitches. He's quickly improving."
His recent work has led to just a 1-2 record in four starts, but Bass has allowed only two earned runs in his previous 14 innings. It's a very positive turnaround from a pitcher who made only three starts in 27 appearances in 2011.
"He's quieted down his delivery and that's helped him make more consistent pitches," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It's just a maturation process, and he's learning it on the job."
Friday night in San Diego, the Marlins will counter with a well-established starter in Josh Johnson, who is still searching for his first victory of 2012. The right-hander comes off a rocky outing, one in which he gave up five earned runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings.
Johnson, who is 0-3 with a 5.34 ERA in five starts this season, appeared on an upswing prior to his April 29 outing against the D-backs. In his previous two starts, Johnson allowed just three earned runs on 10 hits with 12 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings.
Marlins: Bell keeping job as closer
Despite blowing three of six save opportunities to start the season and allowing two runs in the ninth Wednesday, Heath Bell will continue to try to close out games for the Marlins.
"I'm going to give Bell every opportunity out there to fail again, because we are a better ballclub with him as the closer," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "And I want him to be the closer. And he's getting paid to be the closer. That's why we signed him to be the closer."
The Marlins signed Bell to a three-year, $27 million deal last December. While with the Padres from 2009-11, Bell's 132 saves were the most in that span. He has an 11.74 ERA in 2012.
Padres: Luebke placed on the disabled list
The team placed starting pitcher Cory Luebke on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow. He suffered the injury in his last start against the Giants on April 27. The DL stint has been backdated to April 28, meaning Luebke will miss two starts and will be eligible to be reinstated from the DL on May 12.
"He wasn't going to make this start [Wednesday], and moving forward and thinking about his next start, we want to make sure it has resolved itself," Black said. "He feels better and he's encouraged."
The Padres' bullpen owns a National League-best 2.56 ERA.
Padres substitutes are hitting a National League-best .400 (16-for-40) this season.
The Marlins completed their second straight three-game sweep of the Giants at AT&T Park on Thursday, following a three-game sweep last season from May 24-26.