Daisuke Matsuzaka makes his New York Mets debut on Friday when the Detroit Tigers pay a visit to Citi Field to begin a three-game Interleague series.
Matsuzaka's debut comes just three days after he was released by the Cleveland Indians and one day after being signed by the Mets to a one-year contract. He flamed out in Boston last year with an 8.28 ERA in 11 starts and then failed to make Cleveland's starting rotation out of spring training this year. The once-hyped Red Sox right-hander had spent the entire 2013 season at Triple-A Columbus and posted a 3.93 ERA in 19 starts.
"It was more just a function of opportunity," Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said of Matsuzaka's release. "We didn't have an immediate Major League opportunity for Daisuke. He'd been throwing well in Triple-A and thought that he may have a better opportunity elsewhere. So he asked for his release, and we granted it."
Now, Matsuzaka will replace the injured Jenrry Mejia (elbow surgery) in New York's rotation.
He'll go up against Detroit's Doug Fister, who owns a 3.63 ERA in 25 starts this season. The right-hander is winless in his last three starts despite solid results. He got a no-decision against Kansas City on Saturday after allowing three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings to go along with six strikeouts.
The Tigers are looking to rebound from a series loss to Minnesota following Thursday's 7-6 setback to cap a 4-4 homestand. Ace Justin Verlander lost to the Twins for the first time in 10 starts as he was tagged for six earned runs in seven innings.
Still, the Tigers lead the American League Central by five games over the Indians.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has continued to battle through various injuries throughout the season, and he has done so at his usual high level. He tops the American League in batting average (.354) and RBI (123) and is second in home runs (40) as he chases his second straight triple crown.
The Mets split a brief two-game set with National League East-leading Atlanta earlier this week. They are coming off Wednesday's 4-1 loss, as reliever Greg Burke gave up a three-run home run to Chris Johnson in the top of the 10th inning. Atlanta's Freddie Freeman started the rally with a two-out single.
These teams are meeting in interleague play for the first time since 2011.