NEW YORK — A pair of fifth starters will have a pretty high standard to meet on Saturday night, when the New York Mets host the Miami Marlins in the middle contest of a three-game series at Citi Field.
Rookie Mets right-hander Robert Gsellman is scheduled to face Marlins left-hander Adam Conley in a battle of teams who have already received three strong efforts from their starting pitchers in the first four games of the season.
Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen earned the win in the series opener Friday, when he allowed one run over six innings in a 7-2 victory. Miami’s top four starters — Chen was preceded in the rotation by right-handers Edinson Volquez, Dan Straily and Tom Koehler — have combined to post a 3.26 ERA (seven runs surrendered in 19 1/3 innings).
Only Straily, who yielded five runs in 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, allowed more than one run in his debut start. Now Conley, who went 8-6 with a 3.85 ERA in 25 starts last season, will try to maintain the Marlins’ momentum.
“We’ll see over the test of time, but really, we talk about just those guys keeping us in the game and being a group that is consistent with their innings,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Friday night. “That’s what we’ve asked. We’ll see where we go. Obviously, we want to be consistent. It’s four games, so it’s not a trend yet.”
Mets starters have a 2.78 ERA (seven runs allowed in 22 2/3 innings) even after right-hander Zack Wheeler gave up five runs in four innings Friday in his first major league start since Sept. 25, 2014. Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery in March 2015 and made just one minor league appearance last season due to nerve irritation in his elbow and a flexor strain.
Right-handers Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom opened the season by tossing six scoreless innings apiece before right-hander Matt Harvey allowed two runs over 6 2/3 frames Thursday night.
Gsellman looked ready to establish himself as the Mets’ next vaunted starter last season, when he went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA in eight games (seven starts) following his promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas on Aug. 22. He made his season debut on Monday, when he threw a scoreless ninth inning in New York’s 6-0 Opening Day win over the Atlanta Braves.
The 23-year-old Gsellman enters this season as one of the top Rookie of the Year contenders in the National League after throwing 44 2/3 innings last season — just 5 1/3 fewer than the maximum needed to maintain rookie eligibility.
“This guy’s got as good stuff as any young pitcher I’ve been around,” Mets manager Terry Collins said Friday afternoon. “I think Robert Gsellman is a legitimate high-end starter.”
Gsellman has never faced the Marlins. Conley does not have a decision in three starts against the Mets despite recording a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings.