New York Mets: David Price

Series preview: Mets at Mariners

July, 20, 2014
Jul 20
11:11
PM ET

Getty ImagesThe Mets are expected to face Roenis Elias, Erasmo Ramirez and Hisashi Iwakuma in Seattle.
METS (46-52, third place/NL East) vs. SEATTLE MARINERS (52-46, third place/AL West)

Monday: LHP Jonathon Niese (5-4, 2.96) vs. LHP Roenis Elias (7-8, 4.54), 10:10 p.m. ET

Tuesday: RHP Jacob deGrom (3-5, 3.18) vs. RHP Erasmo Ramirez (1-4, 4.58), 10:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (8-8, 4.12) vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.95), 3:40 p.m. ET

Mariners short hops

• Ex-Yankee Robinson Cano, who has battled hamstring issues throughout the season, asked for Sunday’s series finale off against the Los Angeles Angels because of continued tightness. He had played 28 innings over the previous two days. Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million deal in December. Of course, agent Jay Z first dined with Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon. Cano’s .335 average ranks second in the American League, trailing Houston’s Jose Altuve by a point. Cano, 31, also has seven homers and 57 RBIs and a .394 on-base percentage in 404 plate appearances. Willie Bloomquist started Sunday in place of Cano at second base.

• After facing Odrisamer Despaigne on Sunday in San Diego, the Mets will see a second straight Cuban rookie in the series opener in Seattle. Roenis Elias, 25, is 7-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 19 starts. Elias reportedly defected four years ago aboard a raft after a middling, brief career in his native country. He spent 30 hours at sea before landing in Mexico.

• Closer Fernando Rodney, bidding for his 200th career save, failed to convert the five-out opportunity Sunday in a 6-5 walk-off loss to the Angels. Rodney still has an AL-leading 27 saves.


Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsHoward Johnson is the hitting coach for the Mariners.


• Although officially undeclared, Erasmo Ramirez is expected to return from Triple-A to start Tuesday against the Mets while rookie Taijuan Walker gets more seasoning in the minors.

Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak have split the first-base duties of late, with neither putting up acceptable numbers. Smoak (.210) had spent more than three weeks on the DL with a left quadriceps strain, then was optioned to Triple-A on July 4 when deemed healthy. He returned when right fielder Michael Saunders landed on the DL a week later. Morrison, who was acquired from the Miami Marlins in December, is hitting only .222 with five homers in 144 at-bats.

• The Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays reportedly are in discussions regarding David Price and Ben Zobrist.

• Seattle’s coaching staff has a distinct Mets accent. Hitting coach Howard Johnson formerly held that role with the Mets and was a central piece of the 1986 championship club. Pitching coach Rick Waits formerly was minor-league pitching coordinator for the Mets. Rich Donnelly managed the Brooklyn Cyclones the past three seasons. He was hired by the Mariners to manage Triple-A and ascended to the major league staff when John Stearns, another ex-Met, had to step down as third-base coach because of a slow recovery from hernia surgery. Mariners infield coach Chris Woodward played for the Mets in 2005 and ’06. Even Seattle bullpen catcher Jason Phillips is an ex-Met, having played for the club from 2001 through ’04.

The connections don’t stop there. Endy Chavez is a backup outfielder.

• Ex-Met John Buck, who was backing up Mike Zunino, was released during the All-Star break. He was hitting .226 with one homer and six RBIs in 84 at-bats.

• The Mets will miss facing Felix Hernandez during the series. He possesses an AL-best 2.02 ERA. They also will miss ex-Mets right-hander Chris Young, who pitched Sunday. Young is 8-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 20 appearances (19 starts).

• Shortstop Nick Franklin, who became expendable in a trade once the Mariners signed Cano and committed to using Brad Miller at shortstop, has struggled after a torrid start at Triple-A this season. The 23-year-old Franklin was 6-for-47 at the major league level during cameos in April and May with the club. He currently is back in the Pacific Coast League. Miller, meanwhile, is hitting only .204.

Make the Call, Sandy: David Price

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
5:00
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Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesDavid Price would certainly be an attention-getting grab for the Mets.

This offseason will be a pivotal one for the Mets as the team has both money to spend and needs to fill. But not all will be solved by shopping for free agents. Sandy Alderson may have to make a trade or two to net the kind of player the Mets want and need.

Among those they would have interest in are Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies and Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins. But those players are not on the market.

Who might be available from a "pie in the sky" perspective for you to pine for this winter? We take a look at a few possibilities and allow you to weigh in on whether Alderson should make the call to pursue a deal.


SportsNation

Should Sandy Alderson pursue a deal for David Price?

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    59%
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    41%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,823)

Today's candidate: David Price
Position: Starting Pitcher
Age: 28 (turns 29 in August)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 220
2013 Numbers: 10-8, 3.33 ERA in 27 starts for Rays

Why he would be available: The Rays have a history of trading pitchers two years prior to their hitting free agency in order to net the best return. They've done so recently with both James Shields and Matt Garza. Price now has two seasons left before free agency and he figures his days with the Rays are done.

Pros: Price's appeal is obvious. He is among the game's top starting pitchers over the last four seasons. He has a 3.02 ERA over the last four seasons (in which he's averaged 31 starts) pitching for a team in the hitter-heavy AL East. He has very good strikeout numbers, an AL-low walks per nine in 2013 and doesn't allow a lot of home runs. He's in the prime of his career and has significant big-game experience.

There isn't much to dislike, especially considering how well Price pitched after returning from a triceps injury (a 2.53 ERA in his last 18 starts of the season).

Cons: The Mets would only have Price for two years, unless they wanted to sign him to a contract along the lines of what Justin Verlander is getting (he's due $160 million over the next six seasons) or Clayton Kershaw may get (the rumor mill says a $30 million per year deal). And for one of those years, the Mets wouldn't have Matt Harvey (recovering from surgery) to provide a 1-2 punch to the rotation.

The Mets have a history of making blockbuster deals for premier left-handed starters (Mike Hampton and Johan Santana) but the circumstances of those trades was different in that the Mets were prime pennant contenders the years those deals were made. A deal for Price would be one step towards contention, but many others would still be necessary. The Mets might not have the inventory to make all the deals they want.

The cost: We asked ESPN Insider and former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden what the cost would be to land Price. He pointed out that the demand will be high and that in order for the Mets to compete, the deal would almost surely have to include Zack Wheeler as the primary chip.

Should Sandy "make the call?" This would be a more logical consideration if Harvey were healthy and the Mets could take a shot at Price knowing that he'd have company atop the rotation. We say pass, not because of the quality of the player, but because the price (pardon the pun) would not be right.

What do you think? Should the Mets pursue a trade for David Price, and if so, what should they give up? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Morning briefing: Harvey-Halladay on tap

April, 8, 2013
4/08/13
7:17
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Brad Barr/USA TODAY Sports
Matt Harvey opposes a seemingly diminished Roy Halladay tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
FIRST PITCH: After winning two straight series at home to open the season, the Mets (4-2) hit the road for a three-city trip.

The first stop: Philadelphia, with Matt Harvey facing Roy Halladay in tonight’s 7:05 p.m. opener.

Harvey, coming off seven scoreless innings in his season debut against the San Diego Padres, was flattered by recent unsolicited praise from Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price.

Halladay, although clearly diminished, is 7-0 with a 1.78 ERA against the Mets since 2010. He aims for career win No. 200 tonight.

Read the Mets-Phillies series preview here.

Monday’s news reports:

Marlon Byrd produced a two-run, walk-off single to cap a 4-3 comeback win against the Marlins on Sunday at Citi Field as the Mets completed their homestand on a positive note. The Mets have homered in each of their first six games, their longest streak to begin a season since going deep in eight straight to open the 1987 season. The ninth-inning comeback against Marlins closer Steve Cishek spoiled a stellar outing from Jose Fernandez in his major league debut. Scott Rice collected his first major league win. Read game recaps in the Post, Record, Star-Ledger, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Journal and MLB.com.

• Despite allowing 10 hits, a walk and hitting a batter in 4 1/3 innings in his Mets debut, Terry Collins pledged Aaron Laffey would get another start. The Mets may delay using Laffey again, though, until a fifth starter is absolutely required -- Tuesday in Colorado, after a series in Minnesota. Read more in the Post and Record.

• Anthony Rieber in Newsday asks: If Fernandez is pitching in the majors for the Marlins at 20, why can’t top prospect Zack Wheeler be with the Mets with Shaun Marcum and Johan Santana out? But columnist Joel Sherman in the Post believes the Mets, not the Marlins, made the right call. If a team is not in contention, there’s no sense starting free agency and arbitration clocks early. Writes Sherman:

I know the Citi fans want to see Wheeler. Heck, I would have loved to see Wheeler (Baseball America’s No. 11 prospect) versus Fernandez (No. 5), but I am going to take Mets executives’ word for it that Wheeler still has polishing to do in the minors. And also see the logic in not allowing Wheeler to accumulate service time toward arbitration and free agency prematurely when seventy-something wins again seems all but pre-determined.

Instead, the Mets are still playing for a future when they envision Wheeler (and, perhaps, Rafael Montero), joining Jon Niese and Matt Harvey in a rotation that is the backbone for sustained contention. Of course, this is not being done in a vacuum. The Marlins have Fernandez, the Braves have Julio Teheran and the Nationals have Stephen Strasburg, still just 24.

Columnist Bill Madden in the Daily News contrasts yesterday’s pitchers, too. Read more in the Star-Ledger.

• Noah Syndergaard, the pitching prospect acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey, tossed four scoreless innings in his debut with the organization and Cam Maron drove in the lone run and withstood a game-ending plate collision as St. Lucie completed a four-game, home-and-home sweep of Jupiter on Sunday. Read the full minor league recap here.

• Dickey surrendered eight runs against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, including five runs in the first inning -- as many runs as he allowed in the first inning all of last season as a Met. Dickey has an 8.44 ERA through two starts with Toronto.

• Marc Narducci in the Philadelphia Inquirer catches up with Mets sidearmer Greg Burke, who hails from outside of Philly in Gloucester, N.J. "He was the first guy we tried to sign, because of the ground-ball factor in Coors Field," Colorado Rockies scout Will George told Narducci.

"He is a great kid who has persevered, and that tells you a lot about what is inside him."

From the bloggers Faith and Fear in Flushing gives gold stars to Ruben Tejada and Kirk Nieuwenhuis. … John Delcos at Mets Report reviews the team’s opening homestand. … At Mets Police, a request to throw your support in the Honorary Bat Girl contest behind Lisa, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 36.

BIRTHDAYS: The late Gary Carter was born on this date in 1954. … Timo Perez, most recently a Long Island Duck, turns 38. … Former first-round pick Eddie Kunz, who was released by the San Diego Padres late in spring training, turns 27. .. Former Mets reliever Pete Walker is 44.

TWEET OF THE DAY: YOU’RE UP: Who made the right call: the Marlins using Jose Fernandez, or the Mets not using Zack Wheeler?

Matt Harvey flattered by David Price praise

April, 7, 2013
4/07/13
6:54
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After Matt Harvey tossed seven scoreless innings in his season debut Wednesday against the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price tweeted: "Matt Harvey is my new favorite pitcher outside of current and former teammates!! He's nasty"

The praise definitely filtered back to Harvey, who faces Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night in his second start of the season.

"Somebody told me about it," Harvey said. "It's pretty cool. I wasn't obviously expecting anything like that from anybody. It's always nice to hear something like that. Now it's just keep going with it."

Harvey believes he met Price when the Rays pitcher was in Triple-A with Durham and Harvey was still in college at UNC in Chapel Hill.

"Him and a couple of guys were having dinner in Chapel Hill, and a couple of us went to the same restaurant," Harvey recalled. "I'm pretty sure I met him. I'm not sure."

As for facing the Phillies on Monday night, Harvey said: "Philly's Philly. It's a fun place to play. You get a little extra fired up about going there."

Rays' Price impressed with Matt Harvey

April, 4, 2013
4/04/13
10:11
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Mets morning briefing 6.14.12

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
5:55
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- R.A. Dickey ran his scoreless streak to a franchise-record 32 2/3 innings before David Wright's ninth-inning error, a pair of passed balls from Mike Nickeas and an RBI groundout ended the run. Dickey nonetheless passed previous record-holder Jerry Koosman (31 2/3 innings in 1973) as the Mets beat the Rays, 9-1, Wednesday at the Trop.

Dickey retired 22 straight batters at one point in claiming his 10th win, which is tied with St. Louis' Lance Lynn for the major league lead. The knuckleballer surrendered only one hit -- a groundball single in the first inning by B.J. Upton that Wright was unable to barehand. While acknowledging it was a long shot, Terry Collins said the club would appeal to Major League Baseball to have the scoring decision changed to an error on Wright. If successful, the franchise would have its second no-hitter of the month after going 8,019 games without one.

As for Dickey's feat:

He technically got to 10 wins before Lynn, whose game started an hour later. So the knuckleballer became only the second Met in MLB history to be the quickest in baseball to double-digit wins, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Tom Glavine on June 18, 2006 was the first in the majors to 10 wins that season.

Dickey became the first Met to have double-digit wins on June 13 since Bobby Jones was 11-2 on that date in 1997.

Dickey’s scoreless-inning streak is the longest in the majors since Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel tossed 37 2/3 scoreless innings from June 14-Sept. 8, 2011. It is the longest by a starting pitcher since Cliff Lee had a 34-inning scoreless streak from June 11-July 3, 2011.

Dickey had a career-high 12 strikeouts. He has now fanned 58 and walked four over his past six starts.

Dickey has won eight straight decisions. That's the longest streak by a Met since Johan Santana had 10 straight from July 9, 2008-April 6, 2009.

The Mets now go for the sweep of the Rays on Thursday afternoon as Santana (3-3, 2.96 ERA) opposes right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65).

Thursday's news reports:

• Read game recaps in the Times, Post, Daily News, Newsday, Star-Ledger and Record.

• Columnist David Lennon in Newsday got reaction to Dickey's performance from the Rays. "You chalk it up and erase this from your mind, because you faced one of the toughest pitchers going right now," Carlos Peña told Lennon. "Usually when you see a curveball or see a slider, there's a hump and the slider is supposed to come this way, or there's a hump and it's slower or it's bigger. With this, you have no idea what the ball is going to do. If it goes up, you think, 'OK, it's going to come down.' But no, sometimes it would sail way up. Another one would go up and then it would dive straight down and hit the dirt. It's like a roller coaster. That was amazing. ... We would often laugh and try to keep ourselves as motivated as possible instead of getting down on ourselves and frustrated."

Tony La Russa named Collins to his NL staff for the July 10 All-Star Game in Kansas City. Collins actually was invited by La Russa back in spring training. The Mets skipper had participated in one other All-Star Game, in 1995 while managing the Houston Astros, on the NL staff of Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou. Read more in the Star-Ledger and Newsday.

• Columnist John Harper in the Daily News poses this question, writing:

It makes for a delightful debate: Who should start the All-Star Game for the National League, R.A. Dickey or Stephen Strasburg? Or more to the point, would America rather see 98 mph fastballs or 78 mph knuckleballs? The high heat may be more breathtaking, but at the moment, nothing is more deadly than Dickey’s knuckler.

Matt Cain, by the way, is 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA after tossing the first perfect game in Giants franchise history late Wednesday night. He will merit consideration, too.

Justin Turner (ankle/foot) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Buffalo.

• Collins has labeled 41-year-old Miguel Batista as his primary setup man to Frank Francisco after shaking up roles this week. Batista is the second-oldest major leaguer at the moment, trailing only ex-Met Darren Oliver, who has 136 days on him. Writes Brian Costa in the Journal:

Most starters view a move to the bullpen as a demotion. And few relievers can be easily converted to starters. But in an era of bullpen specialization, Batista has made a career of constantly alternating roles. Over the past two decades, many pitchers have been better. But few have been both as flexible and as durable. Entering Wednesday, Batista had made 247 career starts and 393 relief appearances. Only four other pitchers in baseball history have made both as many starts and relief appearances, according to Stats LLC: Dennis Eckersley, Rick Honeycutt, Charlie Hough and Greg Swindell. Batista's reward for being malleable is simple: He's still here.

• Under-the-radar prospect Collin McHugh allowed only one run in 5 2/3 innings, but Binghamton was swept in a doubleheader with a 1-0 nightcap loss. Zack Wheeler pitches Thursday morning for the B-Mets. Read Wednesday's full minor league recap here.

• With the Mets facing three right-handers this weekend at Citi Field and with the team done with the DH, Collins acknowledged Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Lucas Duda will be in the lineup against Cincinnati and Jason Bay, Andres Torres and Scott Hairston will have to share what available playing time remains. Bay did snap an 0-for-18 drought since returning from the DL on Wednesday. One thing is clear: Duda shifting to first base can no longer be seriously entertained, since Ike Davis appears to be heating up. Davis had a pair of hits and a walk against left-hander David Price in the 9-1 win. Read more in the Times.

• Santana makes his first start Thursday since a bad start in the Bronx that followed his no-hitter. Got it? “I admire anybody that throws a no-hitter and is able to throw well the next time out,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told Mike Puma in the Post. “Because, outside of good stuff, preparation and focus is the No. 1 thing for any pitcher, and Johan didn’t have five minutes to himself. As much as he tried to prepare [for the Yankees] I don’t think he was mentally focused the way Johan generally is.”

• With Stony Brook headed to the College World Series, Greg Logan in Newsday chats with Omar Quintanilla (Texas), Dickey (Tennessee) and Davis (Arizona State) about their experiences in Omaha.

TRIVIA: When/where was the Mets' last series sweep in an American League ballpark?

Wednesday's answer: Davis has homered against left-handers Cole Hamels, Mark Buehrle and J.P. Howell this season.

Rapid Reaction: Mets 9, Rays 1

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
9:48
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Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: R.A. Dickey tossed a one-hitter and extended his scoreless streak to 32 2/3 innings to break Jerry Koosman’s franchise record before the streak ended in hard-luck fashion. And the Mets got production from Ike Davis and Mike Nickeas to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-1, Wednesday at Tropicana Field.

Dickey surpassed the 31 2/3 straight scoreless innings by Koosman that had stood as the Mets record since 1973.

Dickey lost the scoreless streak in the ninth, when David Wright’s error, two passed balls and a groundout resulted in an unearned run.

The knuckleballer might have been bidding for the second no-hitter in franchise history, but Wright failed to barehand childhood friend B.J. Upton’s slow chopper in the first inning and Upton was awarded a two-out infield single.

Dickey also owns the longest scoreless streak in the majors this season, topping the 24 2/3 innings tossed by Washington’s Gio Gonzalez.

Dickey last had surrendered a run in the sixth inning at Pittsburgh on May 22, on a sacrifice fly by Andrew McCutchen.

He became MLB’s first 10-game winner. The last time the Mets had a double-digit winner through the team’s first 63 games: Bobby Jones in 1990. (St. Louis’ Lance Lynn, who entered the day with nine wins, is facing the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.)

Dickey struck out 12, setting a career high.

IKE! Terry Collins started Davis for only the second time in the last eight games the Mets faced a left-handed starter. And Davis continued to show signs he is breaking out of a season-long rut.

Facing David Price in his first plate appearance, Davis turned an 0-2 count into a walk. Davis then doubled and came home on Nickeas’ single in the fifth to open the scoring. He also singled in a four-run sixth that chased Price. Davis, who went 2-for-3, has upped his average to .181.

NO SKIDDING: Jason Bay snapped an 0-for-18 drought since returning from the DL with a sixth-inning single. Nickeas snapped 0-for-14 and 2-for-39 skids with the single that scored Davis. Meanwhile, Andres Torres halted an 0-for-11 skid with a game-opening single.

WHAT’S NEXT: Johan Santana (3-3, 2.96) tries to right himself after his letdown in the Bronx when the Mets go for the sweep in a 1:10 p.m. matinee Thursday. Santana opposes right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65). Collins continued to blame himself Wednesday afternoon for giving Santana two extra days of rest after the no-hitter and taking the southpaw out of his rhythm.

Daniel Murphy is scheduled to get the series finale off, according to Collins.

W2W4: R.A. vs. Rays (June 13)

June, 13, 2012
6/13/12
11:08
AM ET


Dickey’s Going for History
R.A. Dickey enters with a 24-2/3 inning scoreless streak, seven innings shy of the Mets' record set by Jerry Koosman in August/September, 1973.

Dickey also enters with a seven-game winning streak. The two pitchers whom Dickey most credits as being influences on his knuckleball, Hall of Famer Phil Niekro and ex-Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield, each had longer streaks.

Niekro’s longest was an eight-gamer in 1982. Wakefield had a 10-game winning streak with the Red Sox in 1995.

Get a Whiff of This
Dickey has struck out at least eight hitters in each of his last five appearances, the best such streak by any major league pitcher this season.

As my Stats & Info colleagues noted and you may have read elsewhere, the last Mets pitcher with a streak that long was Pedro Martinez, who had a run of six straight such starts in 2006.

Hitters have been able to put the ball in play against Dickey on just 31 percent of their swings during this stretch. The only pitcher with a lower rate can throw the ball about 25 mph harder than Dickey, Stephen Strasburg (29 percent).

This is particularly noteworthy for Dickey, because there is no starting pitcher getting hitters to swing more often than him. In the last five starts, hitters have swung at 55 percent of the pitches he’s thrown.

Dickey’s biggest improvement during this strikeout stretch is against left-handed hitters, as noted in the chart on the right. His approach has been one of working his pitches (particularly his knuckleball) to the outer third of the plate or further away more often, and it has worked.

It will be interesting to see how Rays manager Joe Maddon approaches his lineup and if he suggests any switch-hitters bat right-handed versus Dickey, as some in the NL have done.

The Other Guy’s Been Pretty Good Too
Fellow Tennessean David Price provides a formidable foe for Dickey on Wednesday night. Price has a 1.98 ERA in his last nine starts, a 1.03 ERA in his last four starts, though he lasted only five innings against the Yankees his last time out.

Price did average almost 97 mph on his fastball in that start, with his 96.7 mph average being his second best in the last four seasons (he averaged 96.8 in a start in 2010).

Price’s toughest matchup might be Scott Hairston, whose run of recent success started right around the time Dickey started amassing the strikeouts.

Hairston is 11-for-his-last 24 against left-handed pitching since May 18 (Dickey’s five-start strikeout run started the day before). Hairston has more home runs against lefties in that span (five) than strikeouts (four).

The only Mets hitter with experience versus Price is Jason Bay, who is 2-for-5 with a home run against him, all done during the 2009 season.

Series preview: Mets at Rays

June, 12, 2012
6/12/12
9:00
AM ET
Getty Images/US PresswireThe Mets face (l to r) Alex Cobb, David Price and Jeremy Hellickson during an interleague series in St. Petersburg.
METS (32-29, third place/NL East) vs. TAMPA BAY RAYS (35-25, first place/AL East)

Tuesday: RHP Chris Young (0-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (2-2, 4.12), 7:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP R.A. Dickey (9-1, 2.44) vs. LHP David Price (8-3, 2.40), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: LHP Johan Santana (3-3, 2.96) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 2.65), 1:10 p.m. ET

Rays short hops

Evan Longoria, who has been on the DL since May 1 with a torn left hamstring, is due to begin a rehab assignment midweek. Six different players have started at third base in Longoria's absence, with defensively sound Sean Rodriguez making 16 of those starts.

Joe Maddon served on Terry Collins' staff with the Angels. In fact, Maddon became interim manager for the remainder of the season when Collins resigned on Sept. 3, 1999. Maddon also had filled in as Angels manager for eight games the previous season when Collins was serving a suspension. In 2000, Maddon remained with the Angels and served as bench coach for new skipper Mike Scioscia.

Ronald C. Modra/Getty ImagesB.J. Upton played baseball growing up with David Wright in Norfolk, Va.


Alex Cobb, 24, will make his fifth start of the season and 14th of his career in the series opener. He was promoted from Triple-A Durham on May 19 after Jeff Niemann landed on the DL. In his last start, Cobb allowed four runs in seven innings in a 4-1 Rays loss against the Yankees. Cobb allowed his first career two-homer game, with Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano taking him deep.

• Tampa Bay's 3.40 ERA leads American League clubs. However, the Rays' .237 batting average leads only the Mariners and A's.

• Ex-Yankee Hideki Matsui is hitting .111 (2-for-18) in his past six games, since homering in the first inning against the Orioles on June 1. Matsui, 37, was promoted from Triple-A Durham on May 30. He signed a minor league deal a month earlier. Matsui is the fourth Japanese player to sign with the Rays, joining infielder Akinori Iwamura and right-handers Hideo Nomo and Shinji Mori. Mori never appeared with Tampa Bay.

• Outfielder Desmond Jennings returned from a left knee sprain last Tuesday after missing 21 games. He has hit safely in all six games since rejoining the Rays.

• Outfielder Matt Joyce leads the Rays with 11 homers, with the latest coming Sunday against Miami's Anibal Sanchez as Tampa Bay completed a sweep of the Marlins.

Jeremy Hellickson walked a career-high seven in his most recent outing. He allowed only one run and five hits, but was pulled after 4 1/3 innings against the Marlins with his pitch count at 108.

• Center fielder B.J. Upton (.282, 4 HR, 22 RBIs), who was batting in the No. 2 hole, landed in the cleanup slot for three straight games until moving to third Sunday. Upton -- who grew up in Norfolk, Va., with David Wright -- had missed the Rays' first 13 games of season with lower back soreness, which stemmed from an outfield collision with Jennings in a March 14 Grapefruit League game.

David Price is coming off an outing in which he limited the Yankees to one run and three hits. But Price was pulled after five innings with his pitch count at 109.

• Closer Fernando Rodney has converted 18 of 19 save chances. Rodney (0.94 ERA) is one of four American League relievers who has 20-plus appearances and a sub-1.00 ERA. The others: the Angels' Scott Downs (0.42), Athletics' Ryan Cook (0.69) and Mariners' Lucas Luetge (0.00).

• DH Luke Scott (.220, 9 HR, 35 RBIs) is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and is hitting .135 (5-for-37) in his past 11 games. The former Oriole signed a one-year, $6 million deal with a team option for 2013 on Jan. 23.

• First baseman Carlos Peña (.198, 8 HR, 26 RBIs) rejoined the Rays on a one-year, $7.25 million deal after a 28-homer season in 2011 with the Cubs. Peña is Tampa Bay's all-time home run leader with 152. He averaged 36 long balls, 102 RBIs and 93 walks a season during his first stint with the Rays, from 2007-10.

Ben Zobrist is hitting only .223 for the season, but he is 7-for-11 with three walks and two homers in his past three games. With Jennings' return, Joyce has moved from left field to right field, pushing Zobrist from the right field to second base.

• Ex-Mets infielder Jeff Keppinger landed on the DL May 21 with a broken right big toe.

Last series results

Tampa Bay won, 2-1, at Citi Field, June 19-21, 2009 (AP game recaps)

Mets 5, Rays 3: Fernando Nieve allowed one run and three hits in six innings and Brian Schneider hit a three-run homer. Filling in for injured John Maine, Nieve has yielded three runs in two outings against the Rays and Yankees -- the highest-scoring teams in baseball. David Wright added an RBI double and Daniel Murphy had three hits. More

Rays 3, Mets 1: Carlos Peña hit a tiebreaking homer off Johan Santana in the seventh inning, sending James Shields and the Rays to a rainy victory. Shields allowed three hits in seven innings and retired his final 14 batters. He outpitched Santana, who rebounded nicely from the worst start of his career. Both starters were lifted after a 73-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth. Dan Wheeler worked a perfect inning and J.P. Howell got three outs for his fourth save. Ben Zobrist added a solo homer in the ninth. More

Rays 10, Mets 6: B.J. Upton homered and matched a career high with four RBIs, Carl Crawford drove in a pair of runs and the Rays awoke from an offensive slumber. Joe Nelson (2-0) won despite allowing a run for the first time in his last nine appearances, while the New York bullpen dropped to 1-7 in June. The top three spots in the Rays order combined to go 11-for-16 with seven RBIs. A little further down, Jason Bartlett had a pair of hits and Gabe Kapler drove in two runs. Brian Schneider hit a three-run homer and streaky David Wright added three hits for the Mets, who have won only one series this month, against last-place Washington. More

Double Play: Beginning of the end?

June, 11, 2012
6/11/12
11:30
AM ET
Mike Janes/Four Seam Images/AP ImagesIf the Mets are serious about a run, maybe it's time to bring up Zack Wheeler.
Each week, ESPN senior baseball editor Matt Meyers and Mets blogger Mark Simon convene to discuss the upcoming week for the Mets.

Did last week mark the beginning of the end for the Mets' contention hopes?

Meyers: I don't think it marked the end, but the Mets' weaknesses were certainly exposed. Other than David Wright, their roster is comprised almost exclusively of hitters with huge platoon splits, and they are having trouble scoring, particularly against lefties. The defense is poor, and is making the bullpen look worse than it actually is. I wouldn't give up hope, but fans need to be realistic -- this team has holes.

Simon: I hate to say it, but it feels like that’s the path they’re headed down. There are a lot of could’ve, would’ve and should’ve moments in the last week that good teams take advantage of, such as finding a way to win in Washington.

But this team has been able to reverse course several times, so maybe they take the unpredictable route and steal a couple from the Rays.

Is there a move the Mets could make to stem the bleeding?

Meyers: If the Mets really believe they can contend, calling up Zack Wheeler is the one move that could really stir things up. There is a decent chance that he will be as good as he will ever be between now and 2016 or so -- unlike hitters, many pitchers peak in their early 20s -- and the club should try to maximize that window. His secondary stuff might not really be ready, but his fastball is good enough to make him effective while his stuff develops. If nothing else, he's proven he should be in Triple-A.

Simon: As Terry Collins has previously noted, the Mets are hamstrung by the limitations of their 40-man roster.

The Mets could absolutely positively use a right-handed bat, and a left-handed arm, but the options are the likes of Zach Lutz and Robert Carson, who didn’t instill much confidence in their brief stints here.

I would be inclined to find a way on to the roster for Edgin, though I’ll fully admit to Sandy Alderson and J.P. Ricciardi being more up to speed on his readiness than I am.

Make a prediction for the week.

Meyers: I predict the R.A. Dickey-David Price matchup on Wednesday will be a slugfest. Because you just can't predict baseball!

Simon: Funny, our predictions could not be more opposite.

I think Wednesday’s game will live up to expectations and be a 1-0 affair.

Price hasn’t been as good as Dickey, but he’s allowed just three runs over 26 1/3 innings in his past four starts. He could be the hardest throwing starting pitcher the Mets see the rest of the season, with a fastball that averaged 97 mph in his last appearance against the Yankees.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Daniel Murphy
BA HR RBI R
.299 9 54 76
OTHER LEADERS
HRL. Duda 28
RBIL. Duda 85
RD. Murphy 76
OPSL. Duda .831
WB. Colon 14
ERAZ. Wheeler 3.49
SOZ. Wheeler 180