NEW YORK — Zack Godley quickly went from fill-in member to a mainstay in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rotation.
The New York Mets hope Chris Flexen can take another step toward following the path blazed by Godley on Wednesday night when the Mets host the Diamondbacks in the third game of a four-game series at Citi Field.
Godley (5-6, 3.13 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Flexen (2-2, 6.55) in a matchup of right-handers.
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The Diamondbacks beat the Mets 7-4 on Tuesday, giving them wins in each of the first two games of the series.
Arizona (69-57) moved a half-game ahead of the Colorado Rockies in the race for the first National League wild card. New York (54-70) has lost eight of nine to fall 16 games below .500 for the first time since Sept. 19, 2013.
While Godley will be looking to snap a two-start losing streak — he took the defeat last Friday after giving up four runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Diamondbacks fell to the Minnesota Twins 10-3 — the mini-skid doesn’t concern Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, who praised Godley for providing stability to the rotation.
Godley opened the season with Triple-A Reno after going 10-5 with a 5.34 ERA in 36 games (15 starts) for the Diamondbacks the previous two years. He was recalled April 26 to replace injured Shelby Miller in the rotation.
Godley has allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of 18 starts despite being sent back to Reno twice and spending most of his time pitching out of the fifth and most vulnerable spot in the rotation.
“He was not handed this role by any means — we continued to send him up and down,” Lovullo said. “So the first thing that sticks out is how much he’s saved us. The second part is how tough he was mentally, knowing with each start that he could possibly get sent down if he didn’t pitch well.”
The injury-wracked Mets, who have five starting pitchers on the disabled list, aren’t likely to send down Flexen any time soon, even if he could probably use the seasoning after being promoted straight from Double-A Binghamton on July 27.
Flexen, who walked just 10 batters in 61 1/3 innings this season between Binghamton and Class A St. Lucie, has walked 16 while striking out 14 in 22 innings with the Mets. He walked four batters in three of his five starts, though manager Terry Collins saw reason for optimism last Friday when Flexen took the loss after allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Mets fell to the Miami Marlins 3-1.
While Flexen issued four free passes against the Marlins, each one was understandable. He walked cleanup batter Marcell Ozuna and major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton twice apiece.
“I think he’s getting a lot better — I think he’s getting a lot more comfortable,” Collins said after the game. “I think his stuff is getting better. His command is on the uptick. He made some great pitches. He kept the ball away from Stanton.”
Godley is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against the Mets. Flexen has never faced the Diamondbacks.