It will be a battle of left-handers on Tuesday night as the host Miami Marlins continue their quest to secure a National League wild-card berth.
Braxton Garrett (9-6, 3.67 ERA) will start for the Marlins (78-73). Joey Lucchesi (3-0, 2.83) will start for the New York Mets (70-80), relegated to trying to play spoiler.
Prior to this season, Garrett had a combined 5-10 record in 27 appearances, including 26 starts, spread out over three seasons.
This year, Garrett has clearly made a breakthrough as the Marlins are 20-9 when he pitches, which includes 28 starts.
The Marlins are 1-1 in Garret's two appearances against the Mets this season (both in April, his two appearances of the season). He did not get a decision either time, allowing 15 hits and four runs in 7 2/3 innings.
For his career, Garrett is 0-1 with a 4.03 ERA in five appearances against the Mets, including four starts.
Lucchesi, who missed all of last season following elbow surgery, is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA in two career starts against the Marlins. In his only start in Miami in May of 2021, he threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks with eight strikeouts.
The Marlins, who lost 2-1 in Monday's series opener, are powered offensively by Luis Arraez, Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jorge Soler.
Arraez, who is bidding for his second straight batting title, leads the majors with a .354 batting average. On Monday, he eclipsed 200 hits for the first time in his career.
Chisholm is closing in on what would be his first 20-20 season. He has 18 homers and 22 steals.
Soler, who came off the injured list on Sunday, tops the Marlins with 36 homers. He had missed 11 games due to an oblique injury.
"Leaving (Soler's) name out of the lineup card the past two weeks wasn't fun," Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said.
But while the Marlins are competing for a playoff spot despite opening the season with the 24th-ranked payroll in the majors at $92 million (per USA Today), the Mets are out of contention.
The Mets, who opened with the highest payroll in the majors at $354 million, are instead trying to figure out where certain players fit for next season.
Third base is particularly interesting for the Mets, who have tried three rookies there this season: Brett Baty, Ronny Mauricio and Mark Vientos.
"I like that we have three great options," Mets manager Buck Showalter said.
Mauricio, who came up as a shortstop but is blocked there due to the presence of four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover Francisco Lindor, is perhaps New York's most exciting and best option at third.
At 6-foot-3 and 166 pounds, Mauricio, 22, has yet to fill out his body. But he is a switch-hitter with incredible power and a strong arm.
Mauricio hit 20 homers in 108 games in 2021, 26 homers in 123 games last year and 24 in 129 games so far this season. That includes his first major league homer -- a monster 440-foot blast against Arizona on Sept. 12.
As for the rest of Mauricio's game, he doesn't walk much. However, his 38 walks this season are a career high. He also has a career-high 30 steals this season, including six in the majors with zero times being thrown out by MLB catchers.
If Mauricio can win the job at third, the Mets can return Jeff McNeil -- who won the 2022 NL batting title and hit the go-ahead ninth-inning homer on Monday night -- to second base. Vientos could compete for a job at designated hitter and Baty could be tried in left field.
--Field Level Media