5 things to watch as Mets and Dodgers play four-game series in Los Angeles

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Luis Rojas looks on from dugout in blue road jersey August 2021
Luis Rojas looks on from dugout in blue road jersey August 2021

The Mets open a four-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

New York was swept in a three-game series by the Dodgers this past weekend, with two of those losses coming in extra innings.

Here are five things to watch as the Mets look to get some revenge at Dodger Stadium...

Can Mets take advantage of Thursday's bullpen game?

The Dodgers are going with a "bulk-free" bullpen game on Thursday night, manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Wednesday.

New York wasn't able to take advantage of what turned out to be a bullpen game for the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday when Anthony DeSclafani left early due to an ankle injury, and they'll have another chance right away in a similar scenario against Los Angeles.

The Mets being able to hit the Dodgers' 'pen and come away with a win is extremely important because...

Walker Buehler and Max Scherzer will face the Mets -- again

The Mets didn't do much against Buehler and Scherzer this past weekend at Citi Field, and they'll get another crack at them when Buehler gets the ball on Friday and Scherzer takes the mound on Saturday.

The Mets will avoid Julio Urias in this series, while David Price is set to pitch the series finale on Sunday.

How close are Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez to returning?

Lindor is pushing to return without going on a rehab assignment and the Mets are considering it, meaning he could potentially be activated any day.

Jun 19, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) is congratulated by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a two run home run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park.
Jun 19, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) is congratulated by first baseman Pete Alonso (20) after hitting a two run home run against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at Nationals Park.

As he works his way back, Lindor has been taking live batting practice, running the bases, and fielding grounders at shortstop. Now it's just a matter of whether he'll be asked to go on a rehab assignment or not.

Baez, who has been out due to a back issue, is eligible to come off the IL on Sunday, but he might not be ready by then.

Can the Mets' offense finally come around?

The Mets' offense has not been great lately and they have still been dreadful in situations with runners on base, but it has actually started to come around a bit over the last week and change.

Over their last nine games, the Mets have scored 40 runs -- an average of 4.4 per game. That's nothing to crow about, but it's still progress.

That the Mets have gone only 4-5 during that nine-game span is due in part to poor starting pitching and the two extra-inning games they lost to the Dodgers this past weekend.

But if the Mets can keep up this level of scoring -- simply eclipsing four runs on average -- they should be in solid shape.

Taijuan Walker's start

After a string of rough starts, Walker rebounded on Aug. 8 against the Philadelphia Phillies and then took a no-hitter into the seventh inning last Saturday against the Dodgers.

Without Jacob deGrom, the Mets are going to need Walker to keep his recent success going if they have any hope of climbing back to the top of the NL East.

Walker will be on the mound on Thursday night.