Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara opens series vs. Mets

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The Miami Marlins, who are set to open a three-game series against the visiting New York Mets, may have a tired bullpen.

Then again, the Marlins on Friday will start right-hander Sandy Alcantara, who leads the majors in innings pitched (144 1/3).

In other words, Alcantara (9-4, 1.81 ERA) usually gives most of the bullpen the night off, which is a good thing after Miami used six relievers to cover 8 1/3 innings in a wild 7-6 win over the host Cincinnati Reds on Thursday afternoon.

New York was off on Thursday, and the Mets will enter Friday with a well-rested Edwin Diaz, their star closer who is tied for fourth in the majors with 22 saves.

The Mets, who are in first place in the National League East, are set to start Chris Bassitt (7-7, 3.72 ERA) against the Marlins, who are fourth in the division.

Alcantara is a leading candidate to win the NL Cy Young Award. He leads the league in ERA, and he tops everyone in the majors — hitters and pitchers — in wins above replacement (5.5). He has pitched at least six innings in 14 consecutive starts.

Alcantara also has a 1.24 ERA in four July starts. His ERA in 10 home starts this year is 1.66. In three starts against the Mets this season, he is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA, and in 13 career starts against the Mets, he is 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA.

Bassitt, new to the Mets this year, had never faced the Marlins prior to this season. He is now 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA in three starts vs. the Marlins. In one start at Miami, Bassitt is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA.

On the road this season, Bassitt has a 4.67 ERA in eight starts. He has a 3.06 ERA in 10 home starts. In three overall July starts, Bassitt owns a 2.33 ERA.

As for the Mets’ bullpen, Diaz has been off since saving a win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday. He should be fresh on Friday as the Mets try to win their fourth straight game.

Diaz has been dominant this year with 81 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.

Mets setup reliever Seth Lugo, who has a 3.49 ERA, is trying to get back to his form of 2018 and 2019, when his ERA checked in at 2.66 and then 2.70.

He earned a win on Wednesday with 1 2/3 scoreless innings as the Mets completed a two-game sweep over the Yankees.

Lugo’s curveball was filthy in his latest outing.

“That’s about as sharp as you can be in a high-intensity situation,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said.

Meanwhile, the Marlins, who trailed the Reds 5-4 entering ninth inning on Thursday, got a pinch-hit homer from Jesus Sanchez that sparked a three-run rally.

“He’s a huge talent,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Sanchez, who has 12 homers this season.

Mattingly was pleased that the Marlins went 4-3 on their just-completed road trip.

“We lost seven players to the injured list during this road trip,” Mattingly said. “It was an incredible trip for us to end up on the positive (side).”

Miami, though, will need to be wary this weekend of the Mets’ two biggest hitting stars: first baseman Pete Alonso (26 homers, major-league-high 84 RBIs) and shortstop Francisco Lindor (16 homers, 67 RBIs).

Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara opens series vs. Mets originally appeared on NBCSports.com