Rockies-Mets Preview

The Associated Press

Johan Santana hasn't won since June, and that's not going to change for a while.

It's been much longer since the New York Mets have beaten the Colorado Rockies at home.

With Santana out for the season, Collin McHugh is scheduled for his major league debut Thursday when the Mets try to avoid another four-game series sweep at the hands of the visiting Rockies.

Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to inflammation in his lower back, and New York (57-67) has opted to shut him down for the rest of the year.

The struggling ace, who missed all of 2011 due to shoulder surgery, went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts, losing each of his last five with a 15.63 ERA - a stretch that includes a DL stint with a sprained right ankle. However, he also tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history June 1.

"At this point I'm very confident he'll be back next season and ready to go and hopefully in a stronger position than he was coming into this year," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "I can't sit here and say this is a shock or even a surprise. It's disappointing, but that's the nature of things. I don't think he was overused."

Santana joins fellow starters Mike Pelfrey (Tommy John surgery) and Dillon Gee (blood clot in right shoulder) sidelined for the year.

McHugh, an 18th-round pick in 2008, will be the fourth rookie to get a turn in the Mets rotation this year.

The right-hander started the season at Double-A Binghamton, going 5-5 with a 2.41 ERA to earn a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo. He went 2-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts there, allowing one run in 12 2-3 innings while going 1-0 in his last two.

"I've seen every stop that the Mets have to offer," McHugh told the Mets' official website. "They do a good job of developing. It doesn't really matter if you're a first-rounder or a 35th-rounder, they take a lot of pride in you as an organizational piece."

McHugh will now try to help New York beat Colorado (49-73) in Flushing for the first time since Aug. 12, 2010.

The Mets were swept in a four-game set there April 11-14, 2011, and have dropped the first three of this series after falling 5-2 Wednesday.

The Rockies are last in the NL West, but have won four in a row and eight of 10. They're expected to be without Dexter Fowler, though, after he suffered a sprained right ankle Wednesday.

Fowler is hitting .452 in 12 games, and catcher Wilin Rosario may be back in the lineup to help pick up the slack. He has a .360 average with two homers, seven RBIs and eight runs in eight contests.

Tyler Chatwood (3-3, 5.46) is expected to get the ball in an effort to rebound from his worst start of the season.

The right-hander was battered for six runs and nine hits in four innings of a 6-5 loss to Miami on Saturday. That came after he went 2-1 with a 1.26 ERA in his first three starts replacing injured rookie Christian Friedrich (back) in the rotation.

Chatwood was terrific in his only meeting with the Mets on June 19, 2011, tossing seven scoreless innings and allowing four hits in a 7-3 win for the Los Angeles Angels at Citi Field.