Mets face Marlins fishing for fourth straight series win (Apr 09, 2018)

April 9, 2018

MIAMI -- The New York Mets will go for their fourth straight series win when they face the host Miami Marlins on Tuesday night.

The Mets (8-1) have won six games in a row and lead the National League East.

"They know they are a good team," Mets manager Mickey Calloway said of his team.

Meanwhile, the Marlins (3-7) are in last place in the same division, trailing by 5 1/2 games after Monday's 4-2 loss.

New York prevailed Monday despite playing a 12-inning game at the Washington Nationals on Sunday night and arriving at the team hotel in Miami at 5 a.m.

Shortstop Amed Rosario, playing his first full year in the majors, went 2-for-4 on Monday with an RBI single as well as a double that went high off the wall in straight-away center.

The Mets, who have matched the best nine-game start in franchise history, entered this series with a 1.31 bullpen ERA and an overall team ERA of 2.40. Both of those numbers rank second in the majors. On Monday, their bullpen continued that trend with three scoreless innings.

New York will go with right-hander Jacob deGrom on Tuesday. He is off to a strong start with a 2-0 record and a 1.54 ERA. DeGrom, who played college ball in the state at Stetson University, is 47-32 with a 2.95 ERA in his career.

A strikeout pitcher, deGrom has 12 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings this season, and the feeling in New York is that he has yet to hit his groove. Last summer, he won eight straight starts from June 12 to July 24, the longest streak in the majors in 2017.

The Marlins hit .264 with three homers in two games against deGrom last year. DeGrom was 0-1 with a 4.73 ERA in those games, although it comes with a caveat since the Marlins cleaned house trading away their entire outfield and their standout second baseman. Standout catcher JT Realmuto is injured as are third baseman Martin Prado and shortstop JT Riddle.

Bottom line is that this is a virtually new Marlins lineup, and how they fare against deGrom remains to be seen.

Miami will counter with rookie left-hander Caleb Smith, who came over in a trade with the New York Yankees this past winter. Smith, 26, broke into the majors last year with the Yankees, posting a 7.71 ERA in 18 2/3 innings.

This year, he is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in two starts, and his big issue has been bases on balls. He has allowed six hits and nine walks in 8 1/3 innings, striking out 12.

Since Smith is a left-hander, the Mets could use right-handed-hitting Wilmer Flores in place of Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Flores hit 18 homers in 336 at-bats last year but has yet to get untracked in 2018.

Juan Lagares, another right-handed hitter, could be in play for a start in center field. The Mets may choose to rest a lefty-hitting outfielder such as Michael Conforto or Jay Bruce.

The Marlins, meanwhile, have been overmatched so far as they have embarked on yet another rebuilding effort. But some of their hitters have managed to be productive early on, including left fielder Derek Dietrich, who went 3-for-4 on Monday and is batting .311.

Marlins rookie third baseman Brian Anderson, who had an RBI on Monday, is batting .289. Second baseman Starlin Castro is hitting .286 and has been consistent. Outfielder Cameron Maybin is hitting .281, and shortstop Miguel Rojas has had his moments, including a game-winning hit, stellar defense and a .256 batting average.

"I think our guys are fighting to stay with the game plan," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "They are fighting, battling, scratching for runs."