MLB: Washington Nationals at Pittsburgh Pirates

Pirates series preview May 26-28

A last-minute sub-in of Rafael Montero for Jacob deGrom Thursday night promised a spotty start for the Mets, but in the end it was the bats that couldn’t get the job done, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and eventually giving up the series to the last-place Padres.

Collins has been tight-lipped about the team’s cavalcade of injuries in recent days, and it’s unclear when and where we’ll see the return of Jay Bruce, or any those off on rehab assignments. But whoever the heck is in the lineup is headed to Pittsburgh’s PNC Park for three night games against the Pirates (22-26). That is, if it doesn’t all get rained out; the forecast calls for rain today and thunderstorms tomorrow and Sunday in Steel City.

On the mound it’s a battle of the righties, a pitching lineup that bodes well in playing time for the Mets’ star (only?) hitter Michael Conforto. Though he struggled Thursday night, he’s by far the club’s best bat with Cespedes gone, slashing .341/.437/.712 this season.

Meanwhile, rumors are flying about Pittsburgh’s ace Gerrit Cole, who the Yankees reportedly have their eye on for a trade. He’ll pitch Saturday against Zack Wheeler.

When and Where

Game 1: 7:05 p.m. EST (TV: SNY, MLB Network; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 2: 7:15 p.m. EST (TV: FOX; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Game 3: 8:00 p.m. EST (TV: ESPN; RADIO: 710 WOR, ESPN Deportes)

Baseball Weather

Friday:  Cloudy with a high of 70F and 10-15 MPH winds (55% chance of rain)

Saturday: Cloudy with a high around 74F and 5-10 MPH winds (21% chance of rain)

Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a high around 79F and 5-10 MPH winds (60% chance of rain)

Probable Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Jacob deGrom (3-1, 3.56 ERA, 2.02 DRA, .245 TAv, 2.2 WARP) vs. RHP Chad Kuhl (1-4, 5.85 ERA, 4.00 DRA, .290 TAv, 0.7 WARP)

deGrom was a late scratch on Thursday due to threat of a rain delay (a considerable silver lining for the Mets’ chances this weekend, given the original probable pitcher lineup release featured Giant Question Mark as Saturday’s starter.) deGrom, who pitched 7 shutout innings in his last outing, will take on 24-year-old Kuhl, who has struggled so far this season, his second in the majors.

Saturday: RHP Zack Wheeler (3-2, 3.74 ERA, 4.87 DRA, .243 TAv, 0.3 WARP) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole (2-5, 3.36 ERA, 3.57 DRA, .250 TAv, 1.3 WARP)

Wheeler, fresh off some extra days of rest in the rotation (one per his request, one from Thursday’s deGrom sub) will make his first career start at PNC, while Cole, the most formidable of Pittsburgh’s pitchers in the series, is coming off his worst outing of the year, having given up 10 hits in 4.2 innings to the Braves on Monday.

Sunday: RHP Matt Harvey (3-3, 5.36 ERA, 4.64 DRA, .284 TAv, 0.5 WARP) vs. Tyler Glasnow (3-2, 6.69 ERA, 8.86 DRA, .335 TAv, -1.6 WARP)

Assuming Harvey remembers to come to work, he’ll have to keep a particular eye out for Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, who has batted .667 against him over the course of Harvey’s career, albeit a small sample.

Though Glasnow’s ERA is even more unsightly than Harvey’s, he’s sporting more Ks than the Dark Knight—41 over 40.1 innings. We’ll see which stuff they both bring on Sunday.

Who’s Hot?

Mets 1B Lucas Duda (1 HR and 2 RBI Thursday against the Padres)

Mets OF Michael Conforto (he was 0-4 Thursday, but still batting over .400 with 10 hits in last 7 games)

Pirates C Francisco Cervelli (4 hits Thursday against the Braves, slashing .429/.478/.476 in last 7 games)

Pirates SS Jordy Mercer (back-to-back HR Tuesday and Wednesday, SLG .727 in last 7 games)

Pirates 2B Adam Frazier (back-to-back HR Wednesday and Thursday, SLG .682 in last 7 games)

Who’s Not?

Mets with runners in scoring position

Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen (Slashing .091/.167/.091 in his last six games, Pirates faithful fear McCutchen has hit “rock bottom”)

Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (melted down in his last outing on Monday)

When We Last Met

Mets took two out of three at home last June, scoring 17 runs

It’s Literally a 10-Day DL

Mets RHP Steven Matz may’ve originally been the reason for the question mark in Saturday’s lineup, but he’ll now make at least one more start in Triple-A Las Vegas. Meanwhile, it’s likely RHP Seth Lugo will have a longer rehab stint after giving up seven runs in three innings in his second start with High-A St. Lucie, while Cespedes will be moving into the “next phase of his rehab” this weekend.

Notable Quotables

“I’m not at liberty to discuss any injury situation. He’s in there when he’s in there.” – Terry Collins Wednesday night after Jay Bruce left the game due to lower back tightness

“On base five times, man. Doesn’t happen very often, not even in Little League.”— Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the Braves’ Ender Inciarte going 5 for 5 in the series opener

Photo credit: Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports

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