As the New York Mets continue their push toward the postseason, Bartolo Colon seems to be hitting his stride.
Riding a 16-inning scoreless stretch, Colon tries to win a third consecutive start against the streaking Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
Colon (12-11, 4.42 ERA) went 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA in his first seven starts following the All-Star break, but he's struck out 17 and walked three over 15 innings in the last two. In between those outings, the 42-year-old fanned two during a scoreless inning of relief in a 3-1 loss to Boston last Saturday.
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''He's incredible,'' teammate Michael Conforto said after Colon struck out nine in eight innings of Monday's 3-1 victory over Philadelphia. ''He's masterful with the way he pitches, so it's very fun to watch.''
It hasn't been much fun for Colon's recent opponents.
"When he's on like (Monday), his ball is moving everywhere,'' Phillies veteran Jeff Francoeur said. ''People are like, he throws 85 percent fastballs and that's true to an extent - but his fastball can range from 85 to 93 (mph). ... He knows how to pitch.''
Colon has looked strong while going 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA and not walking a batter against the Marlins (56-79) this season. In his last visit to Miami on Aug. 3, the right-hander gave up a run in eight innings of a 12-1 victory.
It appears Colon won't have to face Giancarlo Stanton, who is not expected to be activated from the disabled list for this series. The All-Star slugger has been on the DL since June 27 with a hand injury.
"It's day to day," manager Dan Jennings told MLB's official website. "It's just a matter of when the wrist and the soreness goes out of the hand."
Miami hasn't missed Stanton while totaling 24 runs during a four-game winning streak. Martin Prado's two-out RBI double in the 11th inning Friday was his fifth hit of the night and gave the Marlins a 6-5 victory.
''It would be easy to cash it in right now, because this season on the front end hasn't turned out the way we all thought,'' Jennings said. ''But you have a group of guys who come out every night ready to do battle.''
The loss snapped a season-high seven-game road winning streak for New York (74-60), which owns a five-game lead over Washington in the NL East.
Prado is batting .415 with nine RBIs in his last 10 games, and .382 in 14 against the Mets this season. He's 4 for 13 when facing Colon in 2015.
Brad Hand (4-4, 4.54) is 3-2 with a 3.79 ERA in six starts since joining the Marlins' rotation last month. However, he gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Washington on Sunday. The left-hander allowed five hits in four scoreless innings of a 5-1 loss to New York on Aug. 4.
Yoenis Cespedes, who went 1 for 2 against Hand earlier this season, has homered in each of the last three games while going 7 for 15 with five RBIs. He's hit 11 of his career-high 29 home runs in 31 games since joining the Mets, but has never homered in four consecutive contests.