MLB

Braves-Mets Preview

Even tough Dillon Gee will be taking the mound for the New York Mets, the club is not going back to a six-man rotation.

Gee's outing Sunday will be a spot start in which he'll try to cool hot-hitting Cameron Maybin in the finale of this three-game set against the Atlanta Braves.

Gee's return from a groin injury and Noah Syndergaard's emergence put the Mets (33-30) in a quandary concerning the rotation. Their solution was to use six starters in hopes of easing the burden on Syndergaard, reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and ace Matt Harvey, who missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The brief experiment didn't last long once Gee (0-3, 4.50 ERA) was demoted to the bullpen after being hammered in his first start in over a month June 3. He surrendered seven runs - four earned - and eight hits in four innings of a 7-3 loss at San Diego.

Gee may be tossing the first pitch in this contest, but manager Terry Collins insists it's not a return to six starters.

"I didn't like the looks of it. I didn't like the feeling in the clubhouse that was going on, I didn't like the feeling in here (the interview room). I just didn't like it," Collins said of the reaction to the six-man rotation.

"So it's not a six-man rotation, it's a five-man rotation, but we're going to slip somebody in because we think maybe a day here is an extra day that will help out."

Gee made one relief appearance after being demoted, yielding one run and three hits in 1 2-3 innings while New York was no-hit by Chris Heston in Tuesday's 5-0 loss to San Francisco.

The right-hander is 6-5 with a 3.09 ERA in 16 career starts against the Braves (30-32), going 2-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his last four at Citi Field. He's also allowed Maybin to go just 1 for 9, but that came prior to him joining Atlanta this year.

The center fielder is hitting .444 with 10 RBIs in 10 games to increase his average nearly 50 points to .303. He has four hits in this series and his third Saturday was a go-ahead, two-run single in the 11th inning of a 5-3 win that ended the Braves' five-game slide against the Mets.

"It's just fun to win, man," Maybin said.

The key to that could be the bullpen, which is among the worst in the majors with a 4.53 ERA. However, the relievers have allowed two runs in 15 2-3 innings during Atlanta's 3-2 stretch, and six of them combined to throw 4 2-3 scoreless Saturday.

"We believe in these guys every time they come in," Maybin said. "They continue to go out there and they continue to compete."

The Braves may need another strong effort from the bullpen with Mike Foltynewicz (3-2, 4.72) getting the nod. The rookie has surrendered 10 runs in 11 1-3 innings while not getting a decision in his last two starts after going 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in two outings prior to that.

His only appearance against New York came in Queens and he gave up three runs and a homer to Lucas Duda in 2 1-3 innings of relief in a loss while with Houston on Sept. 28.

Duda had a pair of doubles and an RBI on Saturday, snapping out of a 3-for-32 slump over the previous 10 games. The first baseman is 13 for 27 (.481) in his last eight meetings with the Braves.

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