|Pitchers may rule as Mets-Braves series begins|
Runs might be at a premium Thursday when the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, two of the top pitching teams in the National League, open a four-game series at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
The series opener features New York right-hander Matt Harvey (0-1, 4.80 ERA) against an undetermined Atlanta pitcher who will take the place of Anibal Sanchez, who suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday and is out indefinitely.
The Braves might go with Lucas Sims, who would be making his season debut after going 3-6 with a 5.62 ERA for Atlanta last year. He had one start at Triple-A Gwinnett this season, allowing three hits and no runs in four innings.
The Braves called Sims up Sunday, and he has been in the bullpen since.
Atlanta's other option for a Thursday starter is right-hander Matt Wisler, who could be called up from Gwinnett. Wisler, who was scheduled to start for the Stripers on Friday, has made 46 major league starts and is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts for Gwinnett this season.
The Mets (13-4) are second in the National League with a 3.17 ERA. The Braves (10-7) are fourth in the league with a 3.27 ERA. This will be the first meeting between the inter-division rivals this season.
It will be the fourth start of the season for Harvey, who has struggled in his last two starts after throwing five shutout innings in his first appearance. Harvey allowed four runs in five innings against the Nationals on April 8 and also gave up four runs in five innings against the Brewers on Saturday, when he was the losing pitcher.
"I have to do a better job of mixing it up," Harvey said. "I got fastball and slider happy (against the Brewers)."
Harvey has struggled at times against the Braves. In 11 career starts, he's 3-6 with a 4.38 ERA, striking out 48 and walking 24 in 63 2/3 innings. He was 1-2 with a 5.91 in four starts against the Braves in 2017.
Sanchez injured his left hamstring while running in the outfield grass prior to Wednesday's game against Philadelphia.
"He was finishing his last workout of the day," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.
Sanchez, picked up as a free agent in the preseason, has been impressive in two starts this season, both on the road. He allowed two hits in five innings at Colorado on April 7, then came back to throw six scoreless innings at Wrigley Field in a win over the Chicago Cubs on April 13.
Sanchez (1-0, 1.29) was placed on the disabled list and infielder Johan Camargo was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett. Camargo started the season on the DL with a right oblique strain.
Atlanta is also awaiting news on first baseman Freddie Freeman, who was hit by a pitch on the left wrist in the eighth inning against Philadelphia. Freeman immediately left the game after being struck in the same portion of his wrist that was fractured a year ago.
"Yes, it's a concern," Snitker said. "It's that same wrist. I can't really comment on it until we know more."
Atlanta made another roster move Wednesday, placing beleaguered reliever Jose Ramirez on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and recalling left-hander Jesse Biddle from Triple-A Gwinnett. Biddle was Philadelphia's first-round draft choice in 2010. He had thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings in four appearances at Gwinnett.
The Braves also signed six-time all-star Jose Bautista to a one-year minor league contract. Bautista will report to the club's spring training facility in Orlando before being assigned to an affiliate. He will only be given a chance to make the team as a third baseman, where he played for Pittsburgh in 2007 and occasionally for Toronto from 2009-2011.