Mets-Padres Preview

The Associated Press

He has just one more major league win than he's had major elbow surgeries, but Jenrry Mejia's pitching is starting to turn some heads in New York.

His new batterymate might do the same.

Mejia looks to deliver another impressive outing Saturday night at Petco Park, when top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud could make his major league debut for the Mets against the struggling San Diego Padres.

Once a promising prospect who made his major league debut at age 20 in 2010, Mejia (1-2, 2.22 ERA) had his career derailed by Tommy John surgery and had a 7.03 ERA in six career starts coming into 2013.

That included 14 walks in 24 1-3 innings, but since returning to the majors on July 26, the right-hander has allowed just six earned runs through four starts, including three walks in 24 1-3 innings.

"I know that they worked very hard with him before he got here on smoothing out his mechanics and trying to get him into a consistent release point, and I think they've done that," manager Terry Collins said. "He's worked hard at it and it's paying off."

Mejia held the red-hot Dodgers scoreless for five frames Monday before being charged with three runs - two earned - in the sixth inning of an eventual 4-2 loss.

"He had everything going," catcher John Buck said. "He was electric with his fastball and he really made good pitches when he had guys in situations where he needed to put them away, especially in the heart of the lineup."

While Mejia has been sharp, Edinson Volquez has been anything but.

Volquez (8-10, 5.80) has walked 4.28 batters per nine innings, the highest clip in the NL and one that's largely contributed to his league-worst ERA.

The right-hander failed to get out of the fifth inning Monday, allowing eight runs, nine hits and three walks in 4 1-3 innings of a 14-2 loss at Colorado.

He might not fare much better Saturday. Volquez is 0-5 with a 7.76 ERA in six career starts against New York and was lifted two batters into the fourth inning on Opening Day in Queens, getting charged with six runs in an 11-2 loss.

The Mets (56-64) will look to add to their recent power surge. After hitting just three home runs over their first eight games in August, they have nine in their last seven - including three in Friday's 5-2 victory.

They have homered in all five games they have played against the Padres, with nine overall.

Travis d'Arnaud certainly has the potential to add to that total. The Mets' prized prospect and perhaps the best catcher in the minor leagues is set to make his major league debut on Saturday while John Buck is on the paternity list.

D'Arnaud fractured a bone in his left foot in April, missing three months, but he hasn't looked rusty in Triple-A Las Vegas. The 24-year-old had a .487 on-base percentage and 1.041 OPS in 19 games with the 51s, drawing 21 walks in 78 plate appearances.

"He's done very well there," general manager Sandy Alderson told the team's official website. "His approach offensively has been terrific. He's throwing the ball well. So we'll see what he offers."

The Padres (54-68) could definitely use an injection of life offensively. They've scored 25 runs while losing eight of 10.

Jesus Guzman is 2 for his last 17 with six strikeouts, while Chase Headley is 2 for his last 20 with nine strikeouts.

Will Venable, who has fanned five times in the first two games of this series, has struck out nine times in 17 at-bats against the Mets.