The hype and expectations surrounding Matt Harvey have led to his starts being treated as some sort of holiday by the New York Mets, but he may not even be the best pitcher on his own team.
After getting back in the win column on the latest "Harvey Day," the Mets will look for Jonathon Niese to continue the best stretch of his career Sunday night against the New York Yankees in the finale of this Subway Series.
Harvey's return from Tommy John surgery has been celebrated by the Mets (14-4), and his 4-0 record and 3.04 ERA has justified the growing hype.
He was superb again Saturday, coming one out shy of a complete game in an 8-2 win over the Yankees (10-8) after the Mets' 11-game winning streak ended with a 6-1 defeat a day earlier.
Now, Niese (2-0, 1.50 ERA) looks to hold an opponent to two earned runs or fewer for the eighth consecutive start. The left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.62 ERA over his last seven games, dating to last season. He's yielded one run in each of his last two starts and is position to win three straight for the first time since September 2012.
Niese tossed six scoreless innings Tuesday before giving up a homer and leaving with two outs in the seventh of a 7-1 win over Atlanta.
He's 1-1 with a 2.05 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees.
He is likely to have rookie Kevin Plawecki behind the plate again. Plawecki went 2 for 4 with two runs in his major league debut Wednesday and hit his first career homer - a two-run shot - and added an RBI single on Saturday.
"It was a special day in many ways," Plawecki said.
Juan Lagares would certainly agree, matching his career high with four hits with an RBI triple on Saturday. He was 1 for 13 over his seven previous meetings with the Yankees.
The Yankees will try to bounce back from their first loss in five games behind Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 3.12).
The right-hander is coming off his best start since being acquired in an offseason trade with Miami, yielding one run and scattering eight hits in seven innings of a 5-2 win at Detroit on Tuesday.
After giving up five runs in 10 1-3 innings over his first two starts, he credited the improvement with a slight adjustment.
"I moved my arm a little closer to my body in my last bullpen (session), and I was able to keep it there for most of the game," Eovaldi said. "It really helped my command."
He went 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts against the Mets last season.
Alex Rodriguez is 1 for 7 with two strikeouts in this series, but he's 3 for 8 with a homer versus Niese.
Mark Teixeira, who is also 3 for 8 in this matchup, has five hits - including three homers - over the last two games and five RBIs.
The Mets have won five of six in the Bronx after a five-game skid there.