Highly touted prospect Andrew Heaney will make his major-league debut on Thursday night as the Miami Marlins (36-35) host the New York Mets (32-40) for a four-game set at Marlins Park.
The ninth overall selection of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft dominated at both Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans this season.
"It’s surreal," Heaney said. "I feel like you think about how it might happen or what you want to happen and it does and it doesn’t hit you until just now. Sit down in the park and I’m looking out (to this). Iâm just really excited."
Since winning four in a row against the Tampa Bay Rays at the beginning of June, the Marlins have dropped seven of 11. Although the club still leads the majors with 24 home victories, Miami has captured just one of its past five series at Marlins Park.
Still, the Marlins enter Thursday tied with the Atlanta Braves one game behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East. New York finds itself last in the division with six losses in its past 10 games but just 5.5 games behind the Nationals.
Countering Heaney will be righty Zack Wheeler, who has struggled over his past two starts. He has success against Miami, however, with a 1.45 ERA in three starts that includes six shutout frames last month.
Righty Henderson Alvarez got the no decision in his last start despite allowing only two runs over seven innings. Righty Daisuke Matsuzaka went just one inning in his last start because of a stomach illness. Earlier in the season he faced the Marlins in a relief appearance.
Right-hander Jacob deGrom will face the Marlins for the first time. His ERA has gone up from 3.19 to 4.39 over his past two starts. Righty Tom Koehler cruised through five innings against the Chicago Cubs before surrendering four runs in the sixth en route to a no decision.
Lefty Jonathon Niese and righty Anthony DeSclafani will close out the series on Sunday. Niese has a quality start in 11 of his 13 appearances, including seven shutout frames against the Marlins earlier this season. DeSclafani will make his second start since being recalled and fourth overall in the big leagues. He lasted 6 1/3 innings upon his return and gave up four runs (one inherited).
Here’s a look at the upcoming Mets-Marlins series …
SCHEDULE AND PROBABLE PITCHERS
3B David Wright (Mets): A hot bat might be too strong a word for Wright, but anything is an improvement over one hit in seven games. In the three-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals, he went 4 for 12 (.333) with a homer and two RBI.
SS Adeiny Hechavarria (Marlins): Manager Mike Redmond decided to put Hechavarria in the second spot in the order on Tuesday and saw him match a career high with four hits. He collected another pair of knocks on Wednesday, bumping his average from .262 to .276 in two days.
RF Bobby Abreu (Mets): Since collecting a four-hit game on June 13, Abreu is 1 for 13 (.077) with no runs, one RBI, three walks and four strikeouts over his last five contests. His average has dipped from .319 to .282.
1B Garrett Jones (Marlins): Jones has been the victim of shifts as well as rotten luck. That ended with his three-run go-ahead home-run Tuesday. Still, he is just 6 for 34 (.176) over his past 10 games with eight strikeouts and six RBI.
.231: Average for Mets batters, second-lowest in the majors
55: Strikeouts by Mets pitchers against Marlins hitters through six games this season
71: Games (of 71) Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has appeared in this season. That streak is in jeopardy to open the series after he sustained a left wrist contusion on Wednesday.
.750: Winning percentage for the Marlins at home against the Mets over the past 16 contests
"This has been a common theme for our pitchers not being able to get through the sixth inning or sometimes the fifth inning or giving up the big numbers. (Wednesday) we gave up the big number — the four spot. It’s tough winning ballgames. You can survive the one run but the big innings are what kill you." — Manager Mike Redmond on the rotation’s difficulty avoiding the big inning
"You’ve got to be able to come back and perform. If anything, I was more excited to get back and be back with the guys and play. It was nice being home, but you’ve got to come back and perform." — Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on starting two days after witnessing the birth of his first child, Jace Carter
"It’s the same thing that happened over there, too. Didn’t play our best against this team and they got four out of six against us. No good." — Slugger Giancarlo Stanton on the last-place Cubs taking another series against the Marlins
PROMOTIONS & GIVEAWAYS
June 19 — Seniors Free Ticket Thursday presented by Wellmax Medical Centers; Marlins Cap Thursday Night group offer
June 20 — Fireworks Friday (postgame Fireworks Specatcular)
June 21 — Saturday Spectacular Summer Concert Series with Boyz II Men; All You Can Eat Special
June 22 — "Salty and Pepe" Shaker Set; Bark at the Park with the Humane Society of Greater Miami; Play Sun Smart; Pepsi 4-for-$54 Pack; Family Sunday (Snapshot Sunday, Diamond Dash)