New York Mets manager Terry Collins feels the Subway Series is an ideal chance to give his young starters experience ahead of the playoffs.

The New York Yankees are more concerned with getting back into the AL East chase.

Noah Syndergaard gets his first taste of this rivalry as the Mets try to beat the Yankees again Saturday at Citi Field.

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With the Mets (84-63) atop the NL East by eight games on second-place Washington with 15 to go, Collins hopes this three-game series helps prepare his team for the pressures of the postseason.

"All of them said the most success they had was when they had to play hard right until the end, when every game meant something," Collins told MLB's official website of a recent meeting with the team's senior members. "Therefore the energy these guys play with was always there. Playing a team like the Yankees hopefully will get us back to where we were."

So far, the plan has worked as the Mets followed back-to-back defeats with a 5-1 win Friday behind rookie Steven Matz's six strong innings in front of the second-largest crowd in Citi Field history (43,602).

Syndergaard (8-6, 3.20 ERA) is looking forward to facing the Yankees (80-66), who lead the AL's wild-card race but trail East-leading Toronto by 4 1/2 games.

"We're both playoff teams, we're both in the race," Syndergaard said. "I'm really excited for (Saturday)."

The rookie right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 home starts, with the Mets winning the last seven as he's gone 5-0.

Syndergaard was dominant on the road in his most recent outing, yielding one run and two hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts last Saturday in Atlanta. His previously scheduled start was skipped in order to preserve him for the playoffs.

Talk of Yoenis Cespedes as NL MVP has calmed with him going 0 for 12 over the past three games after hitting .382 with nine homers and 19 RBIs in the previous 13.

Homers by Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda and Juan Uribe picked up the slack for Cespedes' 0-for-4 effort Friday.

"Yo has been unbelievable, but in the last couple of weeks you keep looking up and other guys are getting big hits, and (Friday) other guys had big hits," Collins said.

The Yankees, losers of seven of their last 10, may not have Alex Rodriguez in the lineup for a second straight game since they're in an NL park and his last start at third base came April 27.

Brian McCann, though, is expected back after getting a day off.

"I've seen these guys put up runs before," said manager Joe Girardi, whose team is batting .214 in the last 10 games. "I know we don't have Alex. I know we don't have McCann, too, our big boppers. But we had our opportunities."

Girardi hands the ball to Michael Pineda (10-8, 4.25), who has a 5.82 ERA in four starts after missing a month with a strained right forearm.

The right-hander has surrendered eight runs, 12 hits and four walks in 11 1-3 innings over his last two starts without getting a decision. He matched a career high by serving up three homers last Saturday against the Blue Jays.

Pineda beat the Mets on April 24 in his only career start against them, yielding one run with seven strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings in a 6-1 win.