The New York Mets’ rotation includes some promising young arms, but injuries and ineffectiveness have forced them to turn to a veteran.
Daisuke Matsuzaka gets a chance to prove he deserves to pitch every fifth day on Wednesday night in the middle game of this series with the Chicago Cubs.
New York (28-30) has used four starters who are 25 years of age or younger and is still hoping Matt Harvey can return from Tommy John surgery later this year. Additionally, right-hander Dillon Gee (strained right lat) on the disabled list.
Rafael Montero, one of the Mets’ highly touted young pitchers, failed in his attempt to replace Gee, going 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts before being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday.
Now, Matsuzaka (2-0, 2.45 ERA) gets his chance.
The right-hander has pitched in relief in 16 of his 17 appearances, limiting opponents to .139 at the plate while striking out 32 in 29 1-3 innings.
"He’s saved us in a lot of ways," manager Terry Collins told the team’s official website. "He’s pitched in every role that we’ve asked him to pitch. He’s pitched in the middle, he’s saved a game, he’s pitched in the eighth inning, he’s set up, he’s started. He has certainly been a real valuable guy on our staff."
Matsuzaka was solid on his only start, allowing two runs and three hits with six strikeouts in six innings of a 4-2 win over Arizona on May 25. He’s appeared twice in relief since, yielding one run in 2 1-3 innings.
Matsuzaka’s only meeting with the Cubs was a 3-0 loss with Boston on June 15, 2012, allowing three runs in six innings at Wrigley Field.
Avoiding a similar fate may require some help from the offense, which went 1 for 9 with players in scoring position in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Chicago (21-34). The Mets also left the bases loaded in the third while wasting 6 2-3 scoreless innings from Zack Wheeler.
The Cubs may own the worst record in baseball, but they’re aiming for a fifth win in six home games.
Nate Schierholtz delivered Tuesday’s victory with a walkoff single, his third hit. The right fielder is 6 for 14 over the past four games, increasing his season average 18 points to .224.
"I know I’m a better player than I showed the first few months," Schierholtz said. "That wasn’t me. I knew it was going to come around. It took longer than I hoped, obviously I still have a lot to do in the next four months, but I’m confident and that’s all that matters,
He may be in for a stiff test since Matsuzaka has held left-handed hitters to 4 for 43 (.093) with 17 strikeouts.
Edwin Jackson (3-5, 4.81) takes the mound, and he’s allowed one run with 20 strikeouts in 14 innings while going 1-0 over his last two home starts.
The right-hander is coming off a strong performance on the road last Wednesday, fanning nine batters while yielding two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-0 loss at San Francisco. That was a major improvement after he was tagged for a season-high eight runs in four innings of an 11-1 defeat at San Diego five days earlier.
Jackson has split his last four starts against the Mets despite a 2.70 ERA.