Two teams in need of some positive results collide in the first of a four-game series at Citi Field. The Mets have lost six of seven following a 6-4 loss to Miami on Sunday, and the D-backs arrive in New York after getting swept in three-games by the Twins in Minnesota, getting outscored 27-8 in the process.
The stakes are much greater for the D-backs (67-57), whose lead in the battle for a National League wild-card spot has shrunk to 2 ½ games over the Milwaukee Brewers. They had a 9 ½ game margin at the All-Star break.
"It wasn't a great series, no matter how you slice it," manager Torey Lovullo said of the sweep in Minnesota. "We're a good baseball team, and I know that things are working and trending towards that. I just want to make sure they remember how good they are."
The D-backs swept three games from the Mets (54-68) in May at Chase Field. The Mets are fourth in the NL East and well out of contention for a third consecutive postseason berth. In recent weeks they have traded off six veterans, including second baseman Neil Walker, first baseman Lucas Duda and outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson. Those four were responsible for a combined 75 home runs.
Walker will be looking to win for the first time in exactly two months. He lost his second straight start Wednesday, when he allowed nine hits and five runs (three earned) over five innings in a 9-5 loss to the Astros. Walker is 0-4 with a 4.33 ERA since his most recent win on June 21.
After limiting opponents to five home runs in his first 76 1/3 innings, he's given up nine long balls over his last 38 2/3.
Walker started once against the Mets while with the Seattle Mariners in 2014. He gave up three runs in five innings of a 3-2 loss.
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Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (5-5, 5.98 ERA)
Gsellman will be making his second start since being activated from the disabled list after missing more than six weeks with a hamstring injury.
He didn't factor into the decision last Wednesday after allowing three runs (two earned) over 5 1/3 innings as the Mets lost to the New York Yankees 5-3.
Gsellman's lone career appearance against the Diamondbacks came as a reliever on May 17 at Chase Field. He pitched one inning and gave up one run.
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Changing of the guard
The purging of four veterans has opened up playing time for the Mets' top prospects -- most notably shortstop Amed Rosario and first baseman Dominic Smith. Rosario, 21, is hitting .242 with two home runs in 19 games. Smith, 22, is hitting .152 with two homers in his first 10 games.
Outfielder Michael Conforto has been the mainstay of the Mets' lineup -- hitting .275 with 26 home runs. Yoenis Cespedes is hitting .275 with 16 home runs but has been limited by injuries to 76 games.