There figure to be some interested observers Monday night when right-handers Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett square off. Colon's New York Mets and Burnett's Philadelphia Phillies may not even be chief among that group.
The veteran starters are rumored to be on the trading block since these clubs are essentially out of contention ahead of a three-game set at Citi Field.
Former teammates with the New York Yankees in 2011, Colon and Burnett could both be pitching elsewhere soon since the Mets (50-55) and Phillies (46-59) are the NL East's worst teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
Colon (9-8, 4.03 ERA), who agreed to a two-year, $20 million deal in the offseason, gave up two runs over 7 1-3 innings Wednesday to win for the first time in five outings in a 3-2 victory at Seattle.
Burnett (6-9, 3.86) signed a deal with Philadelphia in the offseason that guarantees him $22.5 million over two seasons. He was brilliant in his last outing with eight scoreless innings in Wednesday's 3-1 home loss to San Francisco.
"This is my team," Burnett told MLB's official site last month. "I understand how things work, but I'm trying not to worry about it. I just try to go about my business and enjoy my teammates."
Both pitchers have proved their durability by leading their respective teams in innings. The 41-year-old Colon has logged 134, while the 37-year-old Burnett has worked 144 2-3 to rank him among the NL's best.
Colon won his lone 2014 start against the Phillies on June 2, surrendering two runs in seven innings in an 11-2 rout at Citizens Bank Park. He has pitched at least seven innings in his last seven outings at home.
Burnett's teams have won his last five starts against New York. He's 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA over that stretch after giving up five runs in seven innings May 30 in a 6-5, 14-inning victory at home.
New York, which last played at home July 13, capped a 5-5 trip with Sunday's 2-0 victory at Milwaukee to split a four-game set. The Mets took two of three in Seattle in their previous series.
"It's huge for us," manager Terry Collins said. "When you start the second half with a 10-day road trip and you play two teams that are fighting for the playoffs, it's a big test and our guys rose and played very well."
Lucas Duda's two-run homer was all the offense the Mets needed. Duda has homered four times in his last six games.
Duda has a double in two at-bats versus Burnett, who has limited Mets star David Wright to three hits in 24 at-bats with 11 strikeouts.
Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer in Sunday's 4-2 win over Arizona. He is 3 for 8 since returning to the lineup after being benched for three games by manager Ryne Sandberg.
"These are a couple of games he can build on and continue to contribute and improve and help the team out," Sandberg said.
Howard is 0 for 2 against Colon this year after homering twice in two at-bats in the only previous meeting between the two in 2008.
The Mets have won six of nine against the Phillies.
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- Bartolo Colon
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