ATLANTA -- There is a new target date for Giancarlo Stanton to return to the Marlins' starting lineup. Now Saturday appears to be the earliest the slugger could be back in action.

Still dealing with a sore left intercostal muscle, Stanton has missed nine straight games. The 22-year-old last saw game action on Sept. 16. He was hopeful to appear in Miami's final road series, which wrapped up at Atlanta on Thursday.

But he was pushed back to Friday, when the Marlins open a three-game set with the Phillies at Marlins Park. Manager Ozzie Guillen ruled that out, as well.

"Hopefully Saturday," the manager said Thursday. "He's going to swing the bat today. We'll see how he feels today. We will rest him tomorrow, and then [hopefully] Saturday."

Despite appearing in just 117 games, Stanton has hit 34 home runs, which ranks among the leaders in the National League.

"He has to tell me how he feels," Guillen said. "I'm not going to put a kid out there if he can't play in the game. I have to wait to see how long it takes."

Guillen did note that if Stanton isn't ready by Sunday, he doesn't see much reason for him to play the rest of the year.

Miami concludes its season with six games at Marlins Park. After the Phillies are in town from Friday through Sunday, the Marlins wrap up with three games against the Mets.

"If he doesn't play this weekend, he should shut it down," Guillen said. "Go home. Why is he going to play three games for? Maybe hit a home run to get 35."

Ozzie likens Eovaldi to young Verlander

ATLANTA -- In watching Nathan Eovaldi, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen sees some similarities to one of the best in the game.

Guillen isn't saying Eovaldi will be the next Justin Verlander, but there are some traits.

For one, both throw in the upper 90s and have electrifying stuff.

"I remember one very, very good guy," Guillen said. "When Verlander was a baby, he was like this kid too. He was all over the place. He was a thrower. Then Justin began to throw strikes. He fixed his pitches. And look where he is right now."

Verlander, the Tigers' ace, is the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and one of the most dominating starters in the Majors.

Eovaldi, obviously, has a long way to go. The rookie is 22, and he has deal with control issues. He's had his struggles, sporting a 4-12 record with a 4.29 ERA.

"I'm not saying I compare [Eovaldi] with him," Guillen said. "But the same kind of arm. I hope he ends up like him. I will compare him to Verlander early in his career. Hopefully he can reach that potential."

In his last two starts, the Marlins are seeing signs of what Eovaldi is capable of achieving. Both games were against the Braves, and he ended up settling for a no-decision each time.

On Tuesday, Eovaldi gave up two runs on four hits with a career-high eight strikeouts in six innings. He was in line for the win, but Freddie Freeman belted a two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth inning.

On Sept. 18 at Marlins Park, Eovaldi shut the Braves out for eight innings.

In the game, Miami let a three-run lead in the ninth inning slip away, but the Marlins won it, 4-3, in 10 innings.

"His stuff is electric," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "When we saw him in Miami, we had no chance. But he commanded every pitch. I think [Tuesday], he wasn't as good with the command. I think he's going to be good for a long, long, long time."