By Sam Bush
The Phillies are throwing their best pitcher at the Mets tonight.
Aaron Harang will make his seventh start of the season for the Phillies and Jon Niese will start his sixth game in 2015 for the Mets. Harang and Niese have both started off the season well below their career marks in ERA, with Harang having posted a 2.35 mark and Niese 2.40. As of Friday, both Harang and Niese ranked among the top 10 in the National League in ERA.
The game will be a matchup of the teams at the top and the bottom of the NL East, with the Mets still atop the division and the Phillies at the other end of the spectrum.
Harang enters the game allowing less than one baserunner per inning and tied for the best mark in the NL in home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.235, having allowed just one in 2015.
Niese can attribute much of his early-season success to the way he has been able to strand players on the basepaths. Eighty-two percent of runners who have reached base vs. Niese this season did not come in to score, a mark bolstered by his NL-leading 64 percent ground-ball rate.
Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is expected to return to the lineup Saturday after he didn’t start Friday. In 16 at-bats vs. the Phillies’ Friday starter, Cole Hamels, Duda has recorded just two hits. Duda has had an even tougher time against Harang in his career, with two hits in 19 at-bats, though one of the hits was a home run.