The New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies have each won six of eight ahead of Tuesday night's tilt at Citizens Bank Park. But New York may have the edge if Jonathon Niese can continue the Mets' run of strong pitching and David Wright picks up where he left off against the Phillies in 2013.
The Mets (14-11) have posted a 2.19 ERA over their last eight contests, including seven quality starts. Only once in the past 12 games has a starter surrendered more than three runs after Dillon Gee gave up three singles over eight innings in a 4-0 home win over Miami on Sunday.
The rotation was also a strong point in 2013 with 94 quality starts, which tied Cincinnati for second-most in the NL.
"I said it in spring training - that we were going to have to lean on our starting pitching, and they haven't disappointed, that's for sure," Wright told the team's website. "We are where we are right now because of them."
Niese (1-2, 2.45 ERA) has been one of New York's most reliable arms. His record doesn't necessarily show it, largely because of a 2.81 run-support average. The left-hander comes off his first victory, yielding one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Wednesday.
He has a 1.52 ERA in his last four starts versus Philadelphia but is 1-4 with a 5.91 ERA in his last six at Citizens Bank.
Niese might be able to look to Wright for some run support despite the third baseman's recent struggles. Wright is 3 for 22 over his last six after a 12-game hitting streak, but he's 13 for 25 in his last six matchups with the Phillies with five homers and nine RBIs. He is batting .383 with 15 extra-base hits in 25 games at Philadelphia since the start of 2011, and the Mets have won 14 of 19 there.
Wright has hit .349 lifetime off Tuesday's starter, Cole Hamels, and three of his five homers against him have come in the past two seasons as he's gone 10 for 24.
Hamels (0-1, 3.00) gave up two runs over six innings in his season debut Wednesday, a 5-2 road loss to the Dodgers. The left-hander, who had been sidelined with left biceps tendinitis, said he lobbied to remain in the game but was yanked after 86 pitches.
"I've been good to go for the last month," Hamels told the team's website. "...But that's their decision and I have to abide by it."
He struggled in his final four outings against New York in 2013, going 1-3 with a 5.76 ERA, and he's 2-7 with a 5.50 ERA in his last nine home starts versus the Mets.
The Phillies (13-12) will enter Tuesday having played an NL-low nine home games, going 4-5. They are coming off a season high-tying 10-game trip, winning six of the final eight while hitting .281 with 19 doubles.
A number of Philadelphia hitters are seeing the ball well, with Ben Revere going 14 for 33 over his last seven games after a 3-for-23 stretch. Carlos Ruiz is 11 for 22 over his last six and 7 for 21 off Niese, while Marlon Byrd is batting .355 over his last eight games.
Byrd, traded to Pittsburgh last season after batting .285 with 21 homers in 117 games for New York, has hit safely in each of his last 12 starts against the Mets while batting .468.
Left-handed sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are a combined 3 for 37 off Niese, though Howard is slugging .837 over his last 11 versus New York with six homers and 20 RBIs.
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