|Mets face Marlins as cloud hangs over manager Callaway|
The Miami Marlins will be looking for their first sweep of the season and their first three-game winning streak of the year when they play host to the New York Mets on Sunday.
New York, meanwhile, may be playing for manager Mickey Callaway's job.
Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who is new to the team this year, inherited Callaway as his manager and speculation is rampant that Van Wagenen could replace him if the team's four-game skid were to continue.
Van Wagenen came to town confidently stating that the Mets were the team to beat in the National League East, but offseason deals for Robinson Cano, Jeurys Familia, Jed Lowrie, Justin Wilson and Keon Broxton have failed to produce. His failure to bring in Gio Gonzalez and his decision to return Travis d'Arnaud to the roster, only to cut him a month later, look dubious.
Yet, Callaway is the one on the hot seat, and Van Wagenen did little to release the pressure when asked about his manager this weekend.
"Mickey has been accountable for what we all want," the GM said. "We have played well at times. I think Mickey knows what's in front of us."
What's in front of the Mets on Sunday is that they will be desperate for a strong performance from veteran right-hander Noah Syndergaard (3-3, 4.74), who has great stuff but is having his most inconsistent season and has produced the highest ERA of his career.
Syndergaard threw a complete-game shutout to beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 on May 2. He also beat the Washington Nationals in his most recent start, earning a 6-2 win on May 14 by allowing just two runs in eight innings.
However, Syndergaard has not thrown consecutive quality starts this season. In fact, he has allowed at least four earned runs in six of his nine starts.
This will be his first matchup against Miami this year, but in eight career starts against the Marlins, he is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
Syndergaard, who has reached 100 mph on the radar gun, will match up on Sunday against Marlins right-hander Sandy Alcantara, who throws just as hard.
Alcantara (1-4, 5.11 ERA) will be making his 15th career major-league start. He has pitched reasonably well in four career starts against the Mets - 1-2, 2.92 ERA. This year, though, he is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA against the Mets. He faced New York last Saturday, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
One concern for Alcantara is that he seems to be regressing. In six starts last year, he went 2-3 with a 3.44 ERA. This year, in his three most recent starts, he has a 6.19 ERA.
Alcantara will likely be without his starting catcher, Jorge Alfaro, who had three RBIs, two hits and one homer in Friday's 8-6 win over the Mets but left Saturday's game due to a strained left calf. The Marlins would miss his power bat and strong arm if he is put on the injured list.
Even so, Friday's win "relaxed" the Marlins, according to Jon Berti, who homered and then walked and scored Miami's second run in Saturday's 2-0 win.
"It helped loosen us up," Berti said on Saturday. "Guys were pressing, myself included. With a win like that, it eased tensions."
--Field Level Media