New York Mets: Zach Duke

Series preview: Mets vs. Nats

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
10:00
AM ET

USA TODAY SportsThe Mets will face Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann in a season-opening series against the Nats at Citi Field.
METS (74-88, third place/NL East) vs. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (86-76, second place/NL East)

Monday: RHP Dillon Gee (1211, 3.62) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-9, 3.00), 1:10 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Bartolo Colon (18-6, 2.65) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.36), 7:10 p.m. ET

Thursday: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-5, 3.42) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (19-9, 3.25), 1:10 p.m. ET

Nationals short hops

• First-year manager Matt Williams, 48, arrives from the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he served the past three seasons as Kirk Gibson’s third-base coach. Williams was a five-time All-Star as a player. He had a relationship with Nats GM Mike Rizzo from their D-backs days.


Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMatt Williams is the first-year manager of the Nats.


Compared with predecessor Davey Johnson, Williams is expected to have the Nats much more aggressive on the bases trying to manufacture runs. Washington’s coaching staff remains basically intact, including Randy Knorr -- a managerial finalist -- continuing as bench coach.

• Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing yips seemed to become even more pronounced during spring training on plays in which he has time to set and throw. The Nats may use Zimmerman on a limited basis at first base against difficult left-handers in place of Adam LaRoche. Zimmerman logged two Grapefruit League innings at first base. Once LaRoche’s contract expires after this season, Zimmerman could make a full transition across the diamond. Washington is expected to choose a $2 million buyout for LaRoche over a $15 million option for 2015.

• The Nats further upgraded their rotation by stealing Doug Fister in a trade from the Detroit Tigers, who were looking to shed payroll. Fister, who is under Washington’s control through the 2015 season, avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $7.2 million salary for this year. He went 14-9 with a 3.67 ERA in 33 appearances (32) starts last season with Detroit. Fister did lose three weeks of spring training because of elbow inflammation. The Nats hoped Fister would return from the DL to start the season’s sixth game -- the same type of plan the Mets have with Jonathon Niese. But then Fister strained a lat muscle Thursday. The Tigers received Steve Lombardozzi, Ian Krol and pitching prospect Robbie Ray in the trade.

• The Washington additions of note on the position-player side: catcher Jose Lobaton from the Tampa Bay Rays on Feb. 13 to serve as Wilson Ramos’ backup, and ex-Pirate/Brave Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, which will allow the regulars to get more time off. Lobaton’s acquisition prompted the release of Chris Snyder. The Nats then picked up Kevin Frandsen at the end of camp as the 25th man and as a righty-hitting first-base option. Frandsen had opted out of a guaranteed $900,000 contract days earlier with the Philadelphia Phillies after being sent to Triple-A. Frandsen was deemed a better option than in-house candidates Jamey Carroll and Tyler Moore.

Stephen Strasburg had bone chips removed from his right elbow in October. He unknowingly pitched with the issue last season. Strasburg emphasized holding runners during camp and added a slider.

Bryce Harper had knee surgery in October to address bursitis, which hampered him last season.

• Closer Rafael Soriano had a rough spring training. He allowed nine earned runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings during Grapefruit League play.

• A year ago, after the departures of Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez as free agents, the Nats entered the 2013 season lacking capable lefty relief. In fact, Zach Duke was the only southpaw in the bullpen to open the year. Now, Washington seemingly has remedied that issue. Former first-round pick Ross Detwiler, after losing out on a rotation spot, has shifted to the bullpen. Washington also acquired Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics on Dec. 11 for minor-leaguer Billy Burns. Gonzalez also was back in camp during spring training. He was released Tuesday, but re-signed on a minor-league deal and is ticketed for Triple-A Syracuse.

• Washington hopes to lock up Jordan Zimmermann on a long-term deal, although it would be costly. Zimmermann wants to be paid like a No. 1 starter, which means at least a $150 million commitment. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season.

• Shortstop Ian Desmond and second baseman Anthony Rendon form the middle infield, which Danny Espinosa back on the big-league club as the backup. Espinosa, a starter in 2011 and ’12, was demoted to Triple-A Syracuse last June with a .158 average and did not return -- even on a September call-up. That decision prevented Espinosa from Super 2 status and arbitration eligibility a year early.

Mets 4, Nats 4: Rafael Montero debuts

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
9:59
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VIERA, Fla. -- Rafael Montero moved to Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, as a 17-year-old and got serious about baseball.

Three years later, he signed with the Mets in 2011.


Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Rafael Montero made his Grapefruit League debut Thursday night.


Thursday night, the 22-year-old right-hander made his Grapefruit League debut against a good portion of the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day lineup.

Montero -- the Mets’ organizational pitcher of the year in 2011 for his performances at Class A Savannah and St. Lucie last season (11-5, 2.36 ERA) -- surrendered one run on three hits in two innings against the Nats at Space Coast Stadium.

He appeared unfazed by the stage during a 41-pitch effort.

The Mets and Nats finished in a 4-all tie after 10 innings.

Montero allowed a leadoff double to Denard Span in the first inning, but consecutively retired Kurt Suzuki, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche to strand Span at second. An inning later, Danny Espinosa produced a one-out double and scored on Nats top prospect Anthony Rendon’s double.

Montero identified his fastball as his top pitch. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud agreed.

“I believe so, just because he can locate it to either side of the plate -- any count,” d’Arnaud said. “

Montero throws a sinker, slider and changeup.

“He executed all of his pitches,” d’Arnaud said. “He has a game plan out there. He’s got phenomenal stuff. He keeps the ball down and he’s got three great pitches. He seemed really comfortable. … He had a phenomenal breaking ball, too. He kept it down and he had a good, sharp angle on it. It’s a real hard pitch to hit.”

Said Terry Collins: “He’s got a good arm. I like the fact that he really pounds the strike zone with his stuff. Great poise on the mound. Great demeanor. Pretty impressive.”

Game tidbits:

• Matt den Dekker singled, stole a base and scored on a wild pitch in the seventh as the Mets pulled even at 4.

Jeremy Hefner completed the game with 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings.

• In his second meeting with the Mets, Stephen Strasburg tossed three innings. He allowed only a Mike Baxter sacrifice fly that scored Jordany Valdespin.

Strasburg’s line: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 52 pitches (30 strikes).

Brandon Lyon allowed one run in one inning. Josh Edgin allowed an unearned run in two innings.

Collin Cowgill went 2-for-4. He’s 6-for-11 with a homer and two walks in Grapefruit play.

Omar Quintanilla (.429) contributed an RBI double against Zach Duke in the fourth inning.

Elvin Ramirez issued a bases-loaded walk in the sixth that had given the Nats a 4-3 lead.

Around the minors 7.4.12

July, 4, 2012
7/04/12
11:02
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SYRACUSE 5, BUFFALO 0: Matt Harvey surrendered two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out six in six innings, but he suffered the loss as the Bisons were blanked by Zach Duke and two relievers. Harvey has an International League-leading 102 strikeouts. He became the 17th Buffalo pitcher to reach the 100-strikeout plateau in a season. Dillon Gee has the record, with 165 two years ago. The Bisons mustered only five hits, two by Adam Loewen in his return to Triple-A after rehabbing a stress fracture in his right foot. Loewen, who missed 61 games, also walked. Harvey has only two wins in his past six starts despite a 2.83 ERA and .218 opponent batting average during that stretch. Box

RICHMOND 9, BINGHAMTON 4: The Flying Squirrels pounced on B-Mets starter Greg Peavey en route to collecting 11 hits, 10 for extra bases. Gary Brown led off the first by doubling. He scored when Mark Minicozzi also doubled. Tommy Joseph made it 2-0 with an RBI double. Richmond added a run in the second on Brown's RBI triple. Binghamton answered in the third against Richmond starter Craig Westcott. Peavey bounced a single up the middle, moved to third on a ground-rule double by Reese Havens and scored on a wild pitch. The B-Mets cut the deficit to one run in the fifth. Eric Campbell bounced a groundball off Westcott's foot, which ricocheted into left field, allowing Juan Lagares to score from second. But a half-inning later, Joseph smacked a three-run homer. Peavey’s night came to a close two batters later. He allowed six runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings, extending his winless streak to seven games. After Richmond tacked on two more runs against Adrian Rosario in the sixth, the B-Mets made one last push in the seventh. Lagares reached on a one-out infield single, ending Westcott’s start. Campbell greeted reliever Ari Ronick with a two-run homer to cap a three-RBI night. Ehrie Adrianza wrapped up the Richmond scoring with a solo homer off Erik Turgeon in the eighth. The B-Mets (37-46) continue the series Thursday with former Giants farmhand Zack Wheeler facing his former organization. Box

JUPITER 4, ST. LUCIE 3: T.J. Rivera went 2-for-3 with an RBI double, but the Mets fell short. Chase Huchingson allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk in five innings. Jack Leathersich allowed one run and four hits in 2 1/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts, but was charged with the loss. Jeff Walters contributed 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Cory Vaughn hit a bases-loaded, two-run single in the third to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Rivera’s double scored Juan Torres in the fourth to put the Mets ahead, 3-2. St. Lucie was limited to four hits and failed to produce a hit after the fourth inning. Zach Lutz batted third and played third base, finishing 0-for-1 with two walks in his first game with St. Lucie after coming off Triple-A Buffalo’s disabled list. Lutz returned after having a broken hamate bone surgically removed from his hand. The Hammerheads pushed across the go-ahead run in the eighth on a single by Aaron Dudley that plated J.T. Realmuto. Box

CHARLESTON 3, SAVANNAH 2: The Gnats scored both of their runs on solo homers. Aderlin Rodriguez gave Savannah a 1-0 lead with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the second. Down 3-1, Cam Maron went deep in the fifth. It was the 14th homer of the year for Rodriguez and the third for Maron. The RiverDogs had taken the lead with two third-inning runs. A pair of groundball singles and an error by second baseman Brandon Brown loaded the bases with one out. Ali Castillo then put Charleston in front with a two-run single through the hole on the left side. Charleston added another run in the fifth. With two outs and Francisco Arcia at third and Cito Culver at first, Culver took off for second. Catcher Albert Cordero’s throw would have easily beaten Culver, who pulled up short of second. By the time Brown, who fielded the throw, looked toward the plate, Arcia had raced home with Charleston's third run. Brown’s throw to first then hit Culver, allowing him to reach second. Down 3-2, the Gnats rallied in the eighth. Rodriguez singled with two outs. Brian Harrison then doubled, but Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate. Gnats starter Jacob deGrom (3-3, 2.64 ERA) was charged with three runs (two earned) on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. He had 46 strikeouts and seven walks in 58 innings this season. Box

ELIZABETHTON 8, KINGSPORT 1: Persio Reyes (0-3) allowed six runs (four earned) on five hits and four walks in three innings. Box

BROOKLYN 9, WILLIAMSPORT 5: Powered by homers from Stefan Sabol and Brandon Nimmo, the Cyclones won their sixth straight. Dawrin Frias (2-0) collected the win, despite facing only one batter in relief. Cole Frenzel extended his hitting streak to six games with a two-run triple in a four-run first. Sabol then became the 26th player in Cyclones history to have a hitting streak of 10 or more games as he ripped an RBI double. Julian Hilario cruised through first four innings, allowing one unearned run. But after striking out Roman Quinn to start the fifth, Hilario yielded a double to Brian Pointer, then a single to Cameron Perkins to put runners on the corners. After striking out Chris Serritella, a two-out RBI single by Mitch Walding cut Brooklyn's lead to 4-2. Yan Carlos Olmo then hit a slow dribbler that third baseman Dimas Ponce threw away, allowing Perkins to score. Larry Greene Jr. doubled to two plate two runs and give the Crosscutters a 5-4 lead. In 4 2/3 innings, Hilario surrendered eight hits and five runs (three earned). Frias entered to face Logan Moore, who grounded out to first base. The next half-inning, Sabol and Nimmo homered. It was Nimmo's second homer this season, this time a three-run shot. Frias combined with fellow relievers Matt Koch and Ernesto Yanez to toss 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing up one hit and one walk. Box

Compiled from team reports

Around the minors 5.1.12

May, 1, 2012
5/01/12
11:46
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SYRACUSE 8, BUFFALO 0: Zach Duke pitched Syracuse passed Buffalo, snapping the Bisons' four-game winning streak. Duke, the former National League All-Star while with Pittsburgh, held the Herd to three hits over a season-high seven innings. The southpaw struck out five Bisons and didn't allow a hit in eight chances with runners in scoring position. His Chief teammates, meanwhile, got plenty of big hits. Right fielder Brett Carroll opened the scoring with a solo homer to lead off the fourth inning against Garrett Olson. Corey Brown added two more in the fourth with a double. Syracuse increased its lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning on an RBI single from Jarrett Hoffpauir and a sac fly from Mark Teahan. Former Bisons outfielder Jason Michaels added a two-run double in the eighth against left-hander Josh Edgin. Chuck James pitched two innings of scoreless relief. He has allowed one run in nine appearances this year. Valentino Pascucci went 0-for-4 and saw his Bisons-best 13-game hitting streak end. Vinny Rottino had one of Buffalo's four hits. His hitting streak now reached 12 games. Fred Lewis made his Bisons debut, going 0-for-4 while manning center field. The Bisons will look to even the series Wednesday with Matt Harvey on the mound. Box

AKRON 6, BINGAMTON 5 (10 innings): Chun Chen came off the bench for the Aeros and supplied three hits, including a walk-off single in the 10th, as the B-Mets could not hold a three-run lead and Elvin Ramirez was charged with a blown save and loss. After Binghamton jumped to a 5-2 lead in the seventh, the Aeros put up two in the bottom half against Kevin Mulvey and handed Ramirez his first blown save with a run in the ninth. Chen ripped the game-winning hit to right against Jeff Kaplan to give the Aeros their league-leading ninth one-run win. For the second night in a row, the B-Mets got on the board first. In his Double-A debut, Akron starter T.J. House hit his first batter. After the hit batsman, a single and a fielder’s choice, Jefry Marte singled to give Binghamton the lead. Rylan Sandoval doubled in the second and scored on a single from Matt den Dekker. After two bumpy innings, House settled in to blank the B-Mets for four consecutive innings. He retired 12 straight B-Mets before walking Eric Campbell to start the seventh. Akron tied the score with two runs in the fourth against B-Mets starter Greg Peavey. After allowing two singles and a fielder’s choice, Peavey surrendered his first run by uncorking a wild pitch. Ben Copeland tied the game with a double. The B-Mets got the lead back with a three-run seventh. A walk and fielding error from Kyle Bellows at third ended the night for House. Bryan Price entered and loaded the bases with a walk to Sandoval. Kai Gronauer and Pedro Zapata provided consecutive run-scoring singles before Oswaldo Navarro supplied a sac fly. After two rocky outings, Peavey turned in a strong performance. The righty allowed two runs on six hits and struck out four over six innings. Akron responded against Mulvey. Ryan Rohlinger ripped a solo homer to start the inning. Bellows walked and was quickly chased home by Chen’s pinch-hit double. Robert Carson relieved Mulvey and recorded two outs to preserve the lead. The Aeros nearly broke through in the eighth. They loaded the bases with no outs, but failed to get the timely hit. After Carson got two straight outs, Ramirez entered and induced Bellows to fly out to end the inning. Akron finally tied it in the ninth. Chen started the rally with a single, advanced to second on a walk to Tim Fedroff and scored on Juan Diaz’s single. In the 10th, the B-Mets were kept in check by Mason Radeke, making his Double-A debut. In the bottom of the 10th, Ramirez walked Rohlinger and gave up a single to Bellows to set the table to Chen. Kaplan entered and watched Chen lace his second pitch into right to give Akron the walk-off win. The teams continue their four-game series Wednesday as left-handers Mark Cohoon and Giovanni Soto face off. Box

ST. LUCIE 15, JUPITER 6: St. Lucie exploded for a nine-run second inning while winning its sixth straight game. D.J. Carrasco -- working a second straight day, a prerequisite to be activated from the DL -- retired the side in order in the seventh with two strikeouts. The Mets hit five homers and pounded out 19 hits to improve to 21-4. Richard Lucas opened the Mets' scoring in the second with a two-run homer. Robbie Shields drilled a three-run shot to give the Mets a 5-1 lead. Cesar Puello extended the lead with an RBI single. The Mets batted around in the second and Lucas also ripped a two-run single in the frame. Wilfredo Tovar hit a leadoff homer in the third to make it 10-1. Cory Vaughn and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back homers in the fifth for a 12-3 lead. Vaughn also had an RBI groundout in the seventh and delivered a two-run double to left in the eighth. Yohan Almonte allowed six runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings with three walks and three strikeouts and picked up his second victory. Ryan Fraser induced an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning after Jupiter loaded the bases and scored three times. Hamilton Bennett tossed two scoreless innings and allowed two hits with one strikeout. Vaughn had three hits with two runs scored and four RBIs. Lucas went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. Flores went 4-for-6 with two runs and an RBI. Danny Muno and Puello each had three hits, while Tovar had two hits and three runs scored. Erik Goeddel starts for St. Lucie on Wednesday. Box

Compiled from team reports

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Bartolo Colon
WINS ERA SO IP
15 4.09 151 202
OTHER LEADERS
BAD. Murphy .289
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187