The National League-worst Miami Marlins are muddling through a lackluster season, although the prospect of a four-game series against the New York Mets brings about a reason to smile. With victories in 10 of 15 meetings in 2013, the visiting Marlins play the opener of a four-game set against their NL East rival on Friday. Miami, which has dropped 27 of its last 38 contests, suffered a 6-1 setback to division power Atlanta on Thursday afternoon.
While the Marlins are undoubtedly struggling, the Mets aren't scheduling a parade any time soon. New York, which has dropped four straight contests, has mustered just 28 runs en route to losing nine of 11 games in September. The Mets enter the series having watched Washington slug 13 homers without one in response during a lopsided four-game sweep.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Miami), SNY (New York)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Marlins LH Brad Hand (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Mets LH Jonathon Niese (6-7, 3.86)
Hand, who will make his first start of the season on Friday, has excelled since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans on Sept. 3. The 23-year-old has struck out three without yielding a hit over four scoreless innings of relief. Hand has pitched well in three appearances versus the Mets, limiting the opposition to a .217 batting average despite dropping the lone decision.
Niese suffered his first loss since June 15 after permitting five first-inning runs en route to Saturday's 9-4 setback to Cleveland. The 26-year-old righted the ship and allowed just one more run in five additional innings in the loss. Niese, who is 2-5 versus Miami, settled for a no-decision after yielding three runs (two earned) on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings on June 9.
1. New York 2B Daniel Murphy drove in a run on Thursday for the first time since Sept. 3.
2. Miami 2B Donovan Solano, who had a two-out RBI single on Thursday, has hit safely in eight of 10 games in September.
3. The Mets will secure their fifth consecutive losing season with another setback.
PREDICTION: Marlins 3, Mets 2