At just 24 years old, the New York Mets' Matt Harvey has taken the game by storm in his first full season in the majors.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, meanwhile, are counting on veteran Ted Lilly to give their injury-plagued rotation a much-needed lift.
Looking to become the first Met to win his first five starts in seven years, Harvey takes the mound opposite Lilly, who's set to make his season debut Wednesday night when these clubs continue a three-game series at Citi Field.
Harvey (4-0, 0.93 ERA) has been lights out thus far, striking out 32 over 29 innings while limiting opponents to a .108 average. He is the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to win his first four starts while yielding a combined 10 hits or fewer.
The right-hander gave up one run, four hits and struck out seven in as many innings Friday in a 7-1 win over Washington.
"There's going to be a lot of years you're going to talk about this guy," manager Terry Collins said. "He pitched great, but that's the mark of a true ace. Games like that can spread to great seasons."
Harvey, who walked off to a standing ovation after outpitching Stephen Strasburg, improved to 2-2 with a 1.42 ERA over six career home starts.
"He functions on such a high octane already," catcher John Buck told MLB's official website. "To be honest, I really don't think he cares who he's facing."
Harvey has a chance to become the first Met to win his first five starts since Pedro Martinez in 2006. He'll try to get the best of Lilly, who's eager to get back on the hill for the first time since May 23 after recovering from shoulder surgery.
The left-hander, entering his 15th season, will help fill in for the injured Zack Greinke and Chris Capuano.
"I spent plenty of time on the DL last year and I can't wait to get off it," he said. "Unfortunately, to be completely frank, the last thing we needed was something like what happened to Greinke and Cappy going down. I hope they get back as soon as possible."
Lilly's contributions will prove all the more crucial with Chad Billingsley now out, too. Billingsley is set to undergo Tommy John surgery Wednesday.
"We're still in good order," manager Don Mattingly said. "We'll end up with five guys that are accomplished starters (Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Lilly and Capuano) and Greinke on top of that. Nobody wants to hear our complaints. A lot of teams would like to have five accomplished major league starters."
Lilly is 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA over six starts versus New York (9-9). He can't be looking forward to facing Marlon Byrd, who's gone 8 for 17 with a homer in their matchups.
After managing 13 runs over a six-game losing streak, Los Angeles (9-10) has scored seven in each of its last two contests, winning both. Mark Ellis did most of the damage in Tuesday's 7-2 series-opening victory, going 4 for 5 with a pair of homers and four RBIs.
"We've been lacking some big hits lately," he said. "We haven't done a great job early on this season."
Matt Kemp, who went 2 for 5 with a double, is a career .370 hitter (20 for 54) at Citi Field.
The Dodgers have outscored the Mets 38-19 during a five-game winning streak. Los Angeles has also won five straight in New York.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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