If nothing else, the Mets and D-backs expected consistency this season out of starting pitchers Dillon Gee and Brandon McCarthy. Though both right-handers had spent parts of previous years battling health issues, they had also established themselves as two of the game's more reliable arms when healthy. Both were quite successful throughout Spring Training.
Yet so far this season, both Gee and McCarthy have been healthy and notably out of whack. They will each look to change their fortunes in Wednesday's 12:40 p.m. MST (3:40 ET) series finale between the Mets and D-backs at Chase Field, with the Mets looking for a sweep.
For Gee, the Mets' Opening Day starter, home runs have been the issue. Unable to paint the corners of the strike zone as he normally would, Gee enters Wednesday's start with five long balls in 19 2/3 innings -- one of the leading culprits in what has been a rotation-wide epidemic for the Mets.
"That's very uncharacteristic," Mets manager Terry Collins said.
For McCarthy, the issue has been similar. The nine-year veteran's usual superlative control has been there, but a few too many bad pitches have resulted in an identical stat line -- five home runs in 19 2/3 innings.
"I really feel like I haven't thrown terribly this season -- it's just been a few pitches here and there that have gone wrong, and they've happened to really hurt me," McCarthy said. "Whether it's a combination of bad luck or too many bad pitches, it's getting old."
Mets: Lagares heads to disabled list; Granderson OK
The Mets placed outfielder Juan Lagares on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained right hamstring, recalling Kirk Nieuwenhuis from Triple-A Las Vegas to replace him. Lagares had been the Mets' best overall player through their first 13 games, batting .314 with an .816 OPS while playing superlative center-field defense.
Still, things could have been worse for the Mets, who avoided having to place Curtis Granderson on the DL as well. Granderson bruised his left forearm, ribcage and knee crashing against the wall in an attempt to catch Miguel Montero's RBI double Monday, but X-rays on all three spots were negative. After sitting out Tuesday's game, Granderson could return as soon as Wednesday.
The Mets will receive another boost Friday, when fellow outfielder Chris Young returns from the disabled list. In the interim, Eric Young will start in left field, with Nieuwenhuis in center and Andrew Brown in right. The Mets do not want to disrupt Lucas Duda by moving him from his natural position of first base back to the outfield, where he struggled defensively in previous seasons.
D-backs: Playing mind games
With the D-backs off to a slow start, manager Kirk Gibson has cautioned his team against putting too much pressure on themselves to try and turn things around in one fell swoop.
"You need to stay with the process and not be so affected by the result," Gibson said.
For players, who have a tremendous amount of pride, that is not an easy task.
"You have to try and trick your mind so you can take that pressure off of you," Gibson said.
• In addition to wearing a No. 42 jersey Tuesday along with every other player in Major League Baseball, Granderson sported a pair of custom-made "Thank You Jackie" cleats. He plans to auction the cleats off at a later date, with proceeds going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
• With a single in the first inning Tuesday, Mets third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to seven consecutive games. Wright also boasts seven home runs in 30 career games at Chase Field.
• D-backs reliever Oliver Perez struck out four batters in two innings Tuesday, his highest career strikeout total as a reliever. Perez owns a 6.14 ERA in eight appearances.