5 things to watch as Mets and Orioles play two-game set in Baltimore

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Matt Harvey Orioles against Mets at Citi Field May 2021
Matt Harvey Orioles against Mets at Citi Field May 2021

The Mets and Orioles play a two-game set in Baltimore starting on Tuesday.

Here are five things to watch...

Matt Harvey vs. the Mets: The Sequel

The return of The Dark Knight to Citi Field in May was emotional for both Matt Harvey and Mets fans, but his performance on the mound left a lot to be desired as New York won in blowout fashion after scoring seven runs in 4.1 innings against Harvey.

Now, Harvey -- who has been struggling badly lately -- will face the Mets for a second time when he gets the start on Wednesday.

Over his last four starts (just 12.1 innings), Harvey has a 12.41 ERA, having allowed 23 hits (including five home runs) and an opposing slugging percentage of .746.

The return of Jonathan Villar

Jonathan Villar has not started a game since June 2, when he left early due to hamstring tightness.

Jun 1, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jonathan Villar (1) waits on deck against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field.
Jun 1, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Mets second baseman Jonathan Villar (1) waits on deck against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field.

Wanting to be extra careful with Villar after Jeff McNeil returned too soon from hamstring tightness and suffered a serious strain, Villar pinch-hit on Friday against the Padres in San Diego, entered Saturday's game on a double-switch (and got three at-bats) and was given the day off on Sunday.

The expectation is that Villar will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday.

One of the best pitching staffs against one of the worst

Despite no true No. 5 starter and the struggles of David Peterson, the Mets -- anchored by Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Taijuan Walker, and one of the best bullpens in the game -- have the second-best staff ERA in baseball.

The Mets' 3.05 ERA trails only the Padres (2.87).

Meanwhile, the Orioles will enter the series with a team ERA of 4.84 -- fourth-worst in the majors.

The Mets' regulars are heating up

The Mets are still without half of their starting lineup, but Francisco Lindor, James McCann, and Dominic Smith have all started to break out, taking pressure off the backup players who have been asked to fill in.

Jun 3, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; New York Mets catcher James McCann (33) celebrates with shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning at Petco Park.
Jun 3, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; New York Mets catcher James McCann (33) celebrates with shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the sixth inning at Petco Park.

Lindor went 0-for-4 on Sunday but has been tremendous lately, hitting .359/.375/.641 with three doubles, one triple, and two homers in 40 plate appearances over his last nine games dating back to May 27.

McCann, who started the season in a terrible funk, has three homers in his last four games.

Meanwhile, Smith is batting .375/.484/.708 with two homers and two doubles in 31 plate appearances over his last eight games.

More reinforcements on the way?

Brandon Nimmo is making a bit of progress but isn't close. The same goes for J.D. Davis.

But the Mets could be very close to getting back Luis Guillorme, who is in the middle of a rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse.

Albert Almora Jr. is close to a rehab assignment of his own and might not be far behind Guillorme.

Jeff McNeil is closer to a rehab assignment than Michael Conforto, and could possibly begin it in a week or so.