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NEW YORK – There’s no better indicator of the different directions in which the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are headed than the main topic of conversations following Saturday night’s game [url=http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-ed-dickson-jersey]http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-ed-dickson-jersey[/url] , when the Dodgers were excited by the return of their Hall of Fame-bound ace and the Mets were pondering if the pitcher with the second-worst ERA in team history would have to start in place of the pitcher with the worst ERA in team history.
The Dodgers will look to complete a sweep of the reeling Mets Sunday afternoon, when the two teams play the finale of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Dodgers hit a game-breaking grand slam for the second straight game Saturday, when Matt Kemp’s pinch-hit blast off Robert Gsellman in the eighth inning provided insurance and then some in an 8-3 win. On Friday, Cody Bellinger snapped a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning grand slam off Zack Wheeler in a 5-2 victory.
The big news Saturday for the Dodgers (40-35), who have gone 24-9 since May 17, was the return of ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who missed the previous three-plus weeks due to a lower back strain. Kershaw allowed two runs in three innings in his first start since May 31.
Manager Dave Roberts said afterward he expected Kershaw to start again on Thursday or Friday.
“To not just have the mindset that I can keep going and know that at some point the plug is going to be pulled, that’s got to be tough for the psyche,” Roberts said of the famously competitive Kershaw. “But I think for me, for us, it’s just more of having him out there is such a plus and just a boost for all of our guys.”
If the Mets (31-43), who have lost five straight and are 20-41 since an 11-1 start, are going to get a badly needed boost Sunday, they’ll receive it from an unknown and unlikely source.
Manager Mickey Callaway said Saturday night that Jason Vargas, who was scheduled to start Sunday, will be placed on the disabled list with an injury he suffered while doing conditioning work earlier this week.
Callaway said the Mets have yet to decide who will start.
Right-hander Chris Flexen will be recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace Vargas on the active roster and is a candidate to start.
Vargas is 2-6 with an 8.60 ERA in nine starts this season and has a 9.38 ERA in 11 career starts with the Mets, for whom he also pitched briefly in 2007. Vargas’ ERA is the highest for any Mets pitcher who has thrown at least 40 innings for the team.
The second-highest ERA in Mets history belongs to Flexen, who has an 11.57 ERA in two appearances this season and an 8.05 ERA in 16 games (nine starts) dating back to last season. Flexen last pitched Thursday, when he got the final out of the Mets’ 4-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies before being optioned to Las Vegas.
“We’re going to see when guys come in (and) play catch [url=http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-barkevious-mingo-jersey]http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-barkevious-mingo-jersey[/url] ,” Callaway said. “Our bullpen’s obviously thrown some innings and we’re going to see how everybody’s feeling when they come in (Sunday) and make that decision then.”
Another possibility to draw the start or to pitch extended innings in relief is rookie Tim Peterson.
He last pitched Thursday, when he tossed 1 1/3 perfect innings against the Rockies and has a 1.17 ERA in five games. The only other Mets reliever to not pitch Friday or Saturday is closer Jeurys Familia.
Whomever pitches for the Mets will oppose Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill (1-2, 4.99 ERA), who is scheduled to make his second start since coming off the disabled list last Tuesday, when he pitched against the Chicago Cubs.
Hill, who missed a month with a blister on his left middle finger, didn’t factor into the decision after allowing three hits over six scoreless innings in Los Angeles’ 2-1, 10-inning loss.
Hill is 1-2 with an 8.00 ERA in six career games (four starts) against the Mets. Neither Flexen nor Peterson has ever faced the Dodgers.
MILWAUKEE — Matt Albers won’t be available Wednesday afternoon when the Milwaukee Brewers wrap up their three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park.
The Brewers placed the right-handed reliever on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right shoulder following a disastrous showing Monday night in a loss to the Cubs when he allowed a season-high five runs in the 11th inning of a 7-2 Brewers loss.
“He reported some soreness after the game,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “He said it has been there for a little bit. We’ve got to just shut it down and try to get him better. Hopefully, it’s something that’s on the shorter end of things and we’ll have all the diagnostics done and get an answer to that a little later in the week.”
Albers was a big part of Milwaukee’s bullpen’s early-season success.
While Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress attracted most of the attention with their dominance, Albers went 3-1 with a save and a 1.08 ERA through his first 21 appearances.
Things took a turn, though, when the calendar flipped to June.
Albers posted a 19.64 ERA over his last four appearances.
“He got to the point where it was affecting him out there on the field and it’s just time to take a break,” Counsell said.
Milwaukee recalled right-hander Jorge Lopez from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill Albers’ spot on the roster and hands the ball to right-hander Jhoulys Chacin on Wednesday in the series finale, looking to extend their half-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central.
Chacin has been stellar of late, going 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his last 11 starts and is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts this season.
“He’s doing what he’s good at,” Counsell said. “He’s executing what he’s good at. It’s a sinking fastball, it’s a very good breaking ball. It’s a sprinkled-in changeup to left-handed hitters.
“Overall, he’s just pitching well.”
Chacin hasn’t faced Chicago since June 20 of last season but is 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in seven career outings (six starts) against the Cubs.
He’ll match up against Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery [url=http://www.officialducks.com/authentic-adidas-isac-lundestrom-jersey]Authentic Isac Lundestrom Jersey[/url] , who’s filled in nicely while Yu Darvish recovers from right triceps tendinitis. Montgomery is 2-0 with a 1.02 ERA in three starts this season after holding the Pirates to a run over six innings his last time out and is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA overall this season.
“What he’s showing right now is how good he actually is,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Montgomery has served as the Cubs’ swingman since he was acquired in a trade ahead of the 2016 deadline. He made it known over the winter that he’d prefer to be a full-time starter but has embraced his current role without issue.
Maddon respected Montgomery’s candor and appreciates his willingness to put the team first.
“I want our guys to speak their mind,” Maddon said. “If that’s what you feel, don’t hold it back. Say it straight forwardly, and then let’s talk about it. I love that. He’s been that guy for a couple years, we just haven’t had that opportunity for him. My advice back to him was just stay ready. ‘When that opportunity arises you need to be ready to take advantage of it.’ He has. … This doesn’t surprise me, what he’s doing.”
Darvish meanwhile took a step forward Tuesday. The right-hander threw off a mound for the first time since May 26 during a 30-pitch bullpen session in Milwaukee. He reported no issues during the workout and will be re-evaluated Wednesday morning.
“He threw really well, easy gas, great location, good spin on his breaking ball, (I was) very impressed,” Maddon said. “The ball was coming out hot, and it was going right where he wanted to throw it. Good command in the ‘pen. … That’s just a bullpen, but it was very encouraging to see him throw that easily and that well.”
There is still no time table for Darvish, who is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts this season, to return.
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