Red-hot Mets try for sweep of Marlins (Apr 10, 2018)

April 10, 2018

MIAMI -- Wednesday's pitching matchup between the New York Mets and host Miami Marlins is not fit for the marquee -- but it is intriguing.

Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, who turns 28 next month, will make his first start of the season. Miami left-hander Jarlin Garcia, 25, will make the first start of his major league career.

The Mets (9-1), who lead the National League East, beat the Marlins 8-6 on Tuesday and have won seven games in a row. New York will go for a sweep on Wednesday, and the Mets have also started the season by taking four straight series, including this one over the last-place Marlins (3-8).

Wheeler is a fairly established major-leaguer starter with a career record of 21-23 and a 3.90 ERA. But he missed all of 2015 and 2016 because of an arm injury and struggled in 17 starts last season, going 3-7 with a 5.21 ERA.

This spring, he failed to make the team out of spring training and was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he made one start and allowed one run in five innings, striking out six.

"Everybody thought he was worthy," new Mets manager Mickey Callaway said when asked about Wheeler's promotion to the majors.

"The feedback (from Mets Triple-A coaches) was that (Wheeler) was feeling real good physically, and he was confident. He was challenging every hitter. He has a wipeout slider. He's in a good spot stuff-wise."

Wheeler faced the Marlins once last season and walked away with a 0-1 record and an 11.25 ERA, lasting only four innings.

While Wheeler gets another shot at the majors, the Marlins are giving Garcia his own opportunity.

Garcia was a starter in the minors, but the Marlins converted him to the bullpen last year. He made his major league debut April 14 and ended up making 68 appearances, posting a 4.73 ERA.

In two appearances this year, Garcia has no record but a 1.80 ERA. His hits allowed per nine innings have improved from 7.9 last year to 4.5 this season.

Garcia faced the Mets five times last year and was impeccable, allowing no hits, two walks and no runs in four innings.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Garcia -- who pitched six and four innings in his two relief appearances this year -- is stretched out enough to throw at least 90 pitches Wednesday.

"After that," Mattingly said, "it will depend on what type of game he's having. But he could go 105 or 110 pitches if he needed.

"(Because those relief appearances were so long), I feel like he has two starts under his belt already. I think this will be good for Jarlin now that he knows he's a starter. He can get into his routine. He knows exactly when he's going to pitch, and he is throwing the ball really well."

Offensively, the Marlins are hoping first baseman Justin Bour can continue his slump-busting performance Tuesday, when he hit a pair of two-run homers, both to the opposite field. He entered the game with no homers and a .162 batting average.

The Marlins have three .300 hitters in the lineup and all three had multi-hit games on Tuesday. Left fielder Derek Dietrich is hitting .327, rookie third baseman Brian Anderson is hitting .317, and second baseman Starlin Castro is batting .304.

For the Mets, switch hitter Asdrubal Cabrera hit two homers Tuesday, one from each side of the plate. Yoenis Cespedes has been struggling a bit and had three strikeouts Tuesday, but also provided the game-winning, two-run, tiebreaking double in the ninth.

New York's bullpen, led by Jeurys Familia's six saves, has been brilliant, and the lineup has produced from leadoff batter Michael Conforto to ninth-place hitter Amed Rosario and all points in between.