Opposite dugout: Mets trying to stay out of NL East basement

mets-logo-sidebar.jpgManager: Mickey Calloway (1st season)

Record: 49-66

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: 1B Wilmer Flores (.273 with 10 HR, 39 RBIs), CF Brandon Nimmo (15 HR, 36 RBIs), LF Michael Conforto (16 HR, 42 RBIs), 3B Todd Frazier (11 HR, 37 RBIs), RHP Zack Wheeler (7-6, 3.82 ERA) RHP Robert Gsellman (7 saves)

Season series vs. Orioles: 0-2

Pitching probables:

Aug. 14: LHP Jason Vargas (2-8) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (3-10), 7:05 p.m., MASN
Aug. 15: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-6) vs. TBD, 7:05 p.m., MASN

Inside the Mets:

Given how poorly rookie manager Mickey Calloway’s first season at the helm of the Mets has gone, no one could blame him for counting down the days until the 2018 campaign has concluded. His players are continuing to drop like flies - slugger Yoenis Céspedes is now out for the season and will likely miss much of next year recovering from surgery on both heels - and the Mets continue to languish in the bottom of the National League East, where they’re battling the Marlins to stay out of the basement. If not for all the injuries, especially those that wrecked the rotation, there’s no telling if the Mets might have been a factor in the NL East.

Who’s producing offensively for the Mets? Not many people from the patchwork lineup Calloway has been piecing together on far too regular a basis. Outfielder Michael Conforto’s 16 homers and 42 RBIs are team-leading marks - yes, you read that correctly - and the Mets are getting some meager stickwork from outfielder Brandon Nimmo (15 homers, 36 RBIs) and third baseman Todd Frazier (11 homers, 37 RBIs). Why are the totals so low? The Mets are dead last in the majors in batting average (.230), hits (893) and total bases (1,477).

Lefty Jason Vargas, who starts Tuesday’s series opener, was an offseason target of the Orioles before signing with the Mets for two years and $16 million. He’s spent a good portion of the year hurt, battling a broken hand and a calf injury, and hasn’t been effective when he’s been healthy. In 12 starts, he’s yet to pitch more than five innings, and in his last start on Aug. 11, the southpaw got only one out in a rain-shortened outing, absorbing another defeat. In 10 career starts against the Orioles, he’s 2-5 with a 2.33 ERA, including an 0-4 mark with a 3.15 ERA in five starts at Camden Yards. Wednesday starter Zack Wheeler has won his past five starts, posting a 2.08 ERA and .195 batting average against in that span. He’s made one career start versus Baltimore, spinning seven three-hit innings without allowing a run on June 6 at Citi Field.

With closer Jeurys Famila dealt to the A’s last month, righty Robert Gsellman has inherited ninth-inning duties for the Mets. He’s got seven saves.

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