The New York Mets were riding high entering a weekend series at the Tampa Bay Rays on a seven-game winning streak. Alas, the Mets were swept by a combined score of 22-8 and now will be without two of their regulars for a while with second baseman Jeff McNeil and outfielder Michael Conforto going on the injured list later today. New York opens a series in Atlanta on Monday night as a +135 underdog on the MLB odds as Taijuan Walker opposes Max Fried. It's the first meeting of the season between the teams. Atlanta will have star outfielder Ronald Acuna back in the lineup.
Both McNeil and Conforto have hamstring injuries. McNeil, who is batting .242 with three homers and eight RBIs, left Sunday's 7-1 loss in St. Petersburg, Fla. McNeil was the designated hitter in the interleague matchup, and backup catcher Patrick Mazeika took over for him at DH batting leadoff. Conforto (.230, two homers, 13 RBIs) also left that game. Utility-man Jake Hager replaced him in right field.
New York already has third baseman JD Davis, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, and starting pitchers Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Carlos Carrasco on the IL. To replace Conforto and McNeil, the team is calling up outfielders Khalil Lee and Johneshwy Fargas from Triple-A Syracuse.
Walker (3-1, 2.20) has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets as he takes the mound. He ranks seventh in the majors in opponents' batting average (.170). Walker has pitched at least six innings in four straight starts and has an ERA of 1.67 and WHIP of 0.81 over that span.
Atlanta's Fried (1-1, 6.55), a southpaw, has been much better his past two starts, allowing two combined runs and six hits over 11 innings. He has pitched 50 career innings vs. the Mets and is 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA and 52 strikeouts.
Acuna, meanwhile, has been out of the starting lineup the past three games with an ankle injury but could start Monday after pinch-hitting Sunday. The MVP candidate is batting .300 with 12 homers and 24 RBIs. His .646 slugging percentage leads the majors.
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