The task falls to arguably the Mets' most effective starter this season in Jon Niese. The left-hander is 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA, and comes off a quality outing in which he allowed three runs over six innings with five strikeouts against the Giants on April 20. Niese has tossed at least six innings in all three of his starts, surrendering just 14 hits in 18 2/3 innings.
However, Niese hasn't found much success against the Marlins during his career. He is just 1-4 in six starts against Miami, with a 5.67 ERA and a .295 opponent's average in 30 2/3 innings.
Ricky Nolasco will counter and, like Niese, hasn't attained much success against his opponent. Thursday's outing will be Nolasco's 20th career start and 22nd appearance against the Mets, but he owns a 5-7 record and 5.27 ERA against his divisional foe.
Nevertheless, the right-hander is off to steady start in 2012. He is 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA and 12 strikeouts in his three starts. A victory would also move Nolasco one step closer to the all-time franchise wins mark. With 66 victories as a Marlin, Nolasco -- who debuted with the club in 2006 -- is two behind Dontrelle Willis.
Marlins: A change at the top?
A slow start for Jose Reyes has prompted manager Ozzie Guillen to field questions about a shakeup at the top of the order. Reyes, who is hitting .217 with just two RBIs so far this season, could be swapped out for Emilio Bonifacio. Though Bonifacio is also without a home run and has driven in two runs, he is off to a .277 start. Guillen says he hasn't made a definite decision, but for now it remains a thought.
"Right now, I think it's too early," Guillen said. "If I do that, right now, it's kind of pushing the panic button. This guy is a premier hitter. He will come out and hit the ball good. I'm not panicking. He's going to be my guy.
"Just leave him there a few more days and see how that works. I hear a lot of people talking about Reyes struggling. We have a few people [here]. We can't keep moving people down to the 12th spot. We only got nine in the lineup."
Mets: Santana back in strikeout form
Johan Santana tallied 11 strikeouts on Tuesday, the most since striking out 10 on Aug. 12, 2010. It was his 50th career double-digit strikeout performance. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Santana is the sixth pitcher who began his career in the last 30 years to record at least 50 games with double-digit strikeouts. The others are Randy Johnson (212), Roger Clemens (110), Pedro Martinez (108), Curt Schilling (93) and David Cone (59).
The Mets have 13 homegrown players on their 25-man roster.
Miami's Omar Infante possesses a .390 (39-for-100) average at Citi Field.