NEW YORK — It will be hard for Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin to pitch much better than he did in his previous two starts.
It will be difficult for Mets southpaw Tommy Milone to pitch much worse than he did the last time he was in the major leagues — or much worse than the player he is replacing in the New York rotation.
A pair of pitchers, and a pair of teams, headed in opposite directions will meet Tuesday night when the Mets host the Diamondbacks in the second game of a four-game series at Citi Field.
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The Diamondbacks opened the series with a 3-2, 10-inning win on Monday. Arizona (68-57) climbed within a half-game of the Colorado Rockies for the first National League wild card and increased its lead in the race for the second wild card to 3 1/2 games over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Corbin (10-11, 4.25 ERA), who has thrown 15 1/3 scoreless innings in winning his past two starts, is scheduled to oppose Milone (1-2, 7.91 ERA between the Mets and Milwaukee Brewers). Milone, returning from a sprained left knee, will be pitching in the majors for the first time since May 21.
Corbin came within an out of recording his first career shutout and his fourth complete game last Thursday, when he allowed four hits over 8 2/3 innings in the Diamondbacks’ 4-0 win over the Houston Astros. The consecutive strong starts have dropped Corbin’s overall ERA from 4.76 to 4.25, the lowest it has been since mid-May.
“Just started feeling good and just really focusing in on my bullpens and making sure my arm’s ready to go every fifth day,” Corbin told Fox Sports Arizona following the game. “I feel good right now.”
The Mets (54-69) are in desperate need of a feel-good moment after losing seven of eight to fall 15 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 28, 2014.
New York got more bad news during Monday’s loss, when the team announced left-hander Steven Matz, who was scheduled to start Tuesday, requires season-ending surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his left elbow. Matz was 0-6 with a 10.19 ERA in his past eight starts.
“It’s tough,” Matz said, “but I’ve talked to some guys who have had this procedure done before, and they came back feeling good and it solved the problem. I’m happy there’s an answer to it.”
Milone is an unlikely candidate to provide a boost, but the Mets, who will have five starting pitchers on the disabled list once Matz hits the shelf, have little choice but to send him to the mound.
The 30-year-old is 0-2 with a 10.50 ERA in three starts for the Mets since he was claimed off waivers from the Brewers on May 7. He gave up eight runs (seven earned) in just 1 1/3 innings in taking the defeat May 21 when the Mets fell to the Los Angeles Angels 12-5.
Corbin is 0-3 with a 6.04 ERA in six career appearances (five starts) against the Mets. Milone is 0-1 with a 7.59 ERA in two career starts against the Diamondbacks.