FIRST PITCH: Matt Harvey now has to be the stopper.
With the New York Mets on a season-high three-game losing streak, Harvey takes the mound at Citi Field on Friday. He opposes fellow 2013 All-Star Game starter Max Scherzer (1-2, 1.26 ERA) and the Washington Nationals in the 7:10 p.m. ET game.
Harvey (4-0, 3.04) is bidding to become the Mets’ first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2006 to win his first five starts of a season. Bartolo Colon had a shot at that distinction Wednesday, but lost at Miami.
For the record, Bryce Harper is 0-for-10 in his career against Harvey. That includes three strikeouts in three plate appearances at Nationals Park during this season’s opening week.
General manager Sandy Alderson said Thursday afternoon that Herrera would regularly play if he was summoned to the majors. The expectation is that Herrera will man second base and Daniel Murphy will shift to third base until David Wright returns from the disabled list. In that scenario, slumping Eric Campbell moves to a bench role.
The corresponding roster move will be announced Friday. Alderson indicated that the Mets likely would restore the bench to five position players, so Jack Leathersich could be headed back to Las Vegas.
Herrera was hitting .370 with one homer and 11 RBIs with the Triple-A club.
FRIDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:
Home cooking did not halt the Mets’ swoon Thursday. Returning to Citi Field, the site of their 10-0 homestand, the Mets suffered their first 2015 home defeat. Washington capitalized on Wilmer Flores' sixth April error and went on to beat the Mets, 8-2, in the opener to a four-game series. The Nats continued their dominance in Queens. They have won 15 of their past 16 games at Citi Field.
Flores botched a would-be double-play grounder in the fourth, opening the door for three runs in the inning. Jacob DeGrom -- who had been perfect through three innings -- ultimately was charged with five runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings. He has allowed five-plus runs in consecutive games for the first time in his career. DeGrom had been 7-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last eight home starts.
The Mets (15-8) have lost a season-high three straight games. Since an 11-game winning streak, the Mets have dropped five of their past seven games. They fell one win shy of the franchise record for April wins, accomplished in 2002 (16-10) and 2006 (16-8).
On a positive note, Juan Lagares produced his first 2015 outfield assist. He ended the top of the sixth inning by throwing out Ryan Zimmerman at the plate on a would-be sacrifice fly from Danny Espinosa.
Rafael Montero’s demotion to Las Vegas was rescinded and he was placed on the major league disabled list instead with rotator-cuff inflammation. The injury is not considered serious. Still, it could pave the way for Steven Matz -- or, less likely, Noah Syndergaard -- to get a spot start in late May. The Mets play on 20 straight days beginning May 8 and might use a spot starter during that stretch. Read more in the Post, Daily News and at NJ.com.
Columnist David Lennon in Newsday examines the core issue with Flores at shortstop: Will he produce more runs than he gives up?
Matz allowed one run and struck out 12 in seven innings for Las Vegas to lower his ERA to 1.84. Matt Oberste had a grand slam and six RBIs as St. Lucie beat Bradenton, 9-2. Shane Bay surrendered a three-run double in the ninth for a blown save as Delmarva beat Savannah, 7-6. Brandon Nimmo (knee) could return to Binghamton’s lineup as soon as Friday. Read the full minor league recap here.
Alderson confirmed Wright is unlikely to return from the disabled list until next Friday at Philadelphia at the earliest. Wright was given a day off from his rehab program Thursday as he returns from a right hamstring strain. He continues to feel the hamstring a little while going full throttle. He nonetheless is expected to play in minor league rehab games sometime next week before being activated. Read more in the Post, Newsday and at NJ.com and MLB.com.
Denard Span departed Thursday’s game for the Nationals dealing with “soreness” in the abdominal area. He twice underwent surgery in that region. He is unlikely to play Friday, but plans to return this series. Read more in The Washington Post.
A U.S. District Court judge on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction barring the sale of the Double-A Binghamton Mets elsewhere, while a group claiming it had a deal in place to purchase the team and move it to Delaware pursues a lawsuit. Read more in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
Sunday’s “Outside the Lines” covers the topic of pitchers' safety and head protection. The discussion is expected to include Mets reliever Alex Torres' headgear. The show will be televised at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN and re-airs at 10 a.m. on ESPN2 and at 11 a.m. and noon on ESPNews.
Comedian/Mets fan Jim Breuer has been finding plenty of one-liner material with the Amazin’s, Brian Lewis writes in the Post.
Jared Diamond in the Journal covers what the Mets need to do to reach the postseason.
BIRTHDAYS: Manny Acosta turns 34. ... Joe Hietpas is 36. ... Armando Reynoso is 49. ... Charlie O'Brien is 55. ... Cory Vaughn is 26.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU’RE UP: Should the Mets stand pat with Flores at shortstop?