Marcus Stroman leads short-handed Mets vs. Braves

MLB

Marcus Stroman has been a model of stability this season for the injury-plagued New York Mets.

Even so, rarely have the Mets needed one of his steadying outings as much as they need one Tuesday night, when Stroman is scheduled to take the mound in the third game of a four-game series against the visiting Atlanta Braves.

Stroman (6-5, 2.35 ERA) is slated to oppose Charlie Morton (6-3, 4.03) in a battle of right-handers.

The teams split a doubleheader Monday. Mets ace Jacob deGrom tossed five one-hit scoreless innings en route to a 4-2 win in the opener before Ronald Acuna Jr.’s fifth-inning homer lifted the Braves to a 1-0 victory in the nightcap.

For the Mets, the split was overshadowed by a spate of discouraging injury news. Relievers Robert Gsellman (torn right lat) and Jeurys Familia (right hip impingement) were placed on the injured list before the opener and in between games, respectively. They were the 20th and 21st Mets players placed on the injured list this season.

During the second game, multiple outlets reported improving fifth starter Joey Lucchesi — who went on the injured list Saturday — was diagnosed with a significant tear in the UCL in his left elbow, an injury that might require Tommy John surgery. And infielder Jonathan Villar pulled up lame while legging out a double in the sixth inning of the nightcap.

“It’s just another challenge,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “You can put it up in the pile of challenges.”

Fortunately for the Mets, Stroman is the one player who has paired an ability to stay healthy with a routinely high performance level. Stroman took a hard-luck defeat Thursday, when he allowed two runs over seven innings in New York’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

It was the career-high eighth straight start in which Stroman has lasted at least six innings. He ranks ninth in the National League in ERA and is 14th in innings pitched (84 1/3).

Consistency has eluded Morton this season, but the 37-year-old veteran flirted with history last Thursday, when he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He earned the win after surrendering three hits over 7 2/3 innings in the Braves’ 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

The scoreless effort was the first this season for Morton, who gave up fewer than three runs just four times in his previous 13 starts. He also recorded an out beyond the seventh inning for the first time since he tossed 7 2/3 innings for the Houston Astros against the New York Yankees on April 30, 2018.

Afterward, Morton said he thanked manager Brian Snitker for allowing him to have a voice in the decision to pitch into the eighth.

“That’s a unique position to be in, where your manager actually is giving you the opportunity to discuss a plan and a decision that’s really ultimately his,” Morton said. “You don’t get those opportunities very much anymore at all.”

Stroman is 4-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four career starts against the Braves. Morton is 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Mets.

–Field Level Media

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