NEW YORK METS (3-5, fourth place/NL East) at CLEVELAND INDIANS (4-3, fourth place/AL Central)
INDIANS SHORT HOPS
Left fielder Michael Brantley (shoulder surgery) and platoon right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall (left wrist) have opened the season on the disabled list. Both currently are on rehab assignments with Double-A Akron.
The Indians have a trio of ex-Mets: Marlon Byrd, Juan Uribe and Collin Cowgill. Byrd signed a minor-league deal on March 18. Uribe signed for one year at $4 million on Feb. 28, then had his spring-training arrival delayed by a visa issue. Byrd got off to a 2-for-16 start, but slugged a two-run homer against Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer during a two-hit game on Thursday that lifted his average to .211.
The Indians are the American League’s answer to the Mets’ young rotation talent, but the Mets will miss standouts Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar during the weekend series. Carrasco and Salazar faced the Rays on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. They combined to allow one run in 14 innings. The Mets still draw 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. The Indians have scored only three runs for Kluber in his two starts this season. Dating to last season, he has received three or fewer runs of support in nine straight and 28 of 34 outings.
How valuable has shortstop Francisco Lindor been on the defensive end? Once he made his major league debut on June 14 of last season, the pitching staff’s batting average on balls in play dropped from .326 (28th in MLB) to an MLB-best .271.
Josh Tomlin will make his season debut against the Mets. He had been scheduled to pitch last Sunday in Chicago, but the game was postponed. Tomlin threw a simulated game on Tuesday in St. Petersburg to try to stay sharp. He last pitched in a game on March 29 in the Cactus League. Tomlin is known for his control. He has issued only 76 unintentional walks in 513 1/3 career innings.
METS SHORT HOPS
Bartolo Colon faces the organization that originally signed him back in 1993. He pitched six big-league seasons for the Indians before getting traded to the Montreal Expos in a deal that resulted in prospects Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore landing in Cleveland. Colon sits at 218 career wins. That’s one shy of matching Pedro Martinez for second all time among Dominican-born pitchers.
Keep an eye on reliever Jim Henderson's velocity the next time he appears. Henderson sat at 90 mph in Wednesday’s appearance, when he failed to record an out. That was roughly 5 mph off his season average. Henderson was working a day after tossing a career-high 34 pitches. Henderson’s velocity figures to respond with a couple of days off, but stay tuned.
Jacob deGrom had been due to rejoin the Mets on Friday, but reportedly instead will attempt to throw a bullpen session at the team’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to test his troublesome right lat. If he continues to have difficulty, the Mets figure to place deGrom on the disabled list and return to a normal bench size. Utility man Eric Campbell had been demoted after Tuesday’s game to create a spot for Rafael Montero as an extra bullpen arm.
With the Mets afforded an extra bat because of the DH, manager Terry Collins indicated that Alejandro De Aza should see action in this series.
Matt Harvey has lost both of his starts this season. Dropping to 0-3 would match the longest streak of starts with a loss in a single season in his career. Harvey also lost three straight starts as a rookie from July 31 to Aug. 10, 2012. If you include Harvey’s final start of last season, the Dark Knight actually has already lost his last three starts entering Saturday’s outing.
Steven Matz looks to rebound after lasting only 1 2/3 innings Monday against the Miami Marlins.