Dodgers-Mets Preview

Most teams might breathe a sigh of relief upon facing a pitcher in his first career start.

For the anemic New York Mets, though, it could be another massive hurdle.

The Los Angeles Dodgers will send Ian Thomas to the mound as an emergency replacement against New York at Citi Field on Friday night.

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The Mets (49-47) would appear to be catching a break by missing Zack Greinke, but that may not be the case considering how bad they've been offensively. Greinke, the owner of a 43 2-3 scoreless inning streak, was originally slated to make this start but he has flown back to Los Angeles to be with his wife as the couple expects the birth of their first child.

New York likely won't get out of the weekend without seeing Greinke, though.

"To get back to pitch tomorrow would be, I'd say, unrealistic, but we do feel like there's a good chance he'd pitch this weekend," Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said.

Clayton Kershaw cruised through the Mets' lineup Thursday night, flirting with a perfect game before ultimately striking out 11 in a three-hit, 3-0 victory.

"The way we're swinging the bats, we were overmatched," manager Terry Collins said.

New York is 10 for 71 (.141) with runners in scoring position while going 2-5 since the All-Star break, scoring three runs or fewer six times. Curtis Granderson and Ruben Tejada are the only players hitting above .235 while playing in at least six games in that stretch, while Lucas Duda, second on the team with 38 RBIs, is 5 for 27 (.185) with eight strikeouts. Duda has homered three times in his last 45 games after hitting nine through his first 48.

Like Kershaw, Thomas (0-1, 5.23 ERA) is also left-handed, and the Mets are even worse against southpaws, hitting a major league-worst .216 on the season and .161 since June 17.

Not helping New York's cause is the continued absence of Michael Cuddyer, who wasn't in the lineup for the 12th time in 19 games due to a knee injury. He was re-examined by doctors and given a new medication, and the club is hopeful he'll avoid the disabled list.

Thomas will be the 13th starting pitcher used by Los Angeles this season. Thomas has made two relief appearances for the Dodgers while bouncing between Triple-A Oklahoma City and the big league club since being acquired from Atlanta in the Juan Uribe deal on May 27. Most recently he threw two scoreless innings against Philadelphia on July 7, but gave up four runs over three innings in a 6-3 loss at Colorado on June 2 in his team debut.

He went 2-1 with a 5.55 ERA five minor league starts for Oklahoma City this year.

Los Angeles (55-42) hasn't exactly been prolific offensively of late either, scoring fewer than five runs in eight of its last 10 games. Adrian Gonzalez continues to heat up, however, going 3 for 4 Thursday and is 13 for 28 since the break. He was 7 for 44 (.159) in his final 13 contests before the All-Star Game.

Jonathon Niese's name has come up as a potential trade deadline target for the Dodgers, but the left-hander will be working against them Friday. Niese (5-8, 3.36) is 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his last three starts and 2-1 with a 3.79 ERA in six career meetings with Los Angeles.

The Dodgers have won nine of 11 at Citi Field.