The New York Mets are just a week away from bringing back their black alternate jerseys on July 30. What they could really use heading into their longest homestand of the season, though, is one of the pitchers who wore the black jerseys from the late 1990s through 2012.
The undermanned Mets willlook to maintain their National League East lead when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
Rookie right-hander Tylor Megill (0-0, 2.63 ERA) is slated to make his sixth career start for the Mets when he opposes left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu (9-5, 3.32 ERA).
Both teams were off Thursday. Marcus Stroman and Jeurys Familia combined for a one-hitter Wednesday as the visiting Mets blanked the Cincinnati Reds, 7-0, in the finale of a three-game series. The Blue Jays played their final scheduled "home" game in Buffalo later Wednesday night, when they fell to the Boston Red Sox 7-4.
Stroman's gem came at a most opportune time for the Mets, whose bullpen threw a combined 23 innings in the previous three games as Taijuan Walker and Jerad Eickhoff struggled, and Robert Stock exited with a hamstring injury.
Counting the recent addition of Stock, New York has eight starters -- an entire rotation and then some -- on the injured list. That includes ace Jacob deGrom as well as David Peterson and Joey Lucchesi, who have combined to make 23 starts this year, and the duo of Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard, neither of whom has pitched in 2021.
"We have some really talented guys that we're just really anxious to get back," Mets first baseman Pete Alonso said Tuesday night.
But without the late '90s and early '00s likes of Al Leiter, Johan Santana and Steve Trachsel coming through the Citi Field doors -- and the trade deadline still eight days away -- the Mets will need Megill to continue thriving as the No. 3 starter behind Walker and Stroman.
Megill tossed a career-high six scoreless innings last Saturday, when he allowed six hits and walked none while striking out two but didn't factor into the decision as the Mets fell to the Pirates, 9-7. The two whiffs were a career-low for Megill, whose 26 strikeouts in his first four starts were tied for the most in team history with Dick Selma, Dwight Gooden and Matt Harvey.
This will be the first interleague start for Megill.
The Blue Jays, who entered Thursday 4 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics in the race for the second American League wild card spot, are seeking consistency as they head into a pivotal part of the schedule. After facing the Mets, Toronto heads to Fenway Park for a four-game set against the AL East-leading Red Sox.
The Blue Jays are 21-19 since June 1, a span in which they've won 17 games by three or more runs and lost 12 games by at least three runs. Toronto won four straight games by a combined margin of 28-3 before being outscored 20-8 by the Red Sox in back-to-back losses.
"Part of the game," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Wednesday night. "We've been playing good. It's just these past two games, we didn't pitch well and we paid the price."
Ryu earned the win in his most recent start Sunday, when he tossed seven scoreless innings as the Blue Jays beat the Texas Rangers, 5-0. He is 5-1 with a 1.23 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.
--Field Level Media