Mets sending Taijuan Walker out to keep Cubs at bay

In their last turn through the rotation, the New York Mets produced some impressive results even in the games not started by ace Jacob deGrom in a run of games against opponents well over .500.

The best rotation in terms of earned run average looks to produce another strong outing Tuesday night when the Mets host the Chicago Cubs in the second game of a four-game series.

The Mets are 12-5 in their past 17 games and 12-2 in their past 14 home games. They also boast a major league-best 2.72 ERA from the rotation, and since David Peterson allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings a week ago in Baltimore, their rotation has pitched to a stellar 0.89 ERA (three earned runs, 30 1/3 innings) while facing San Diego in a three-game series before facing the Cubs.

The latest effective start occurred in Monday’s series opener when the Mets posted a 5-2 victory. It also might have been the most unexpected showing as Peterson allowed one hit in six scoreless innings after entering the series with a 6.32 ERA.

“We’ve been playing the same game now for a good number of days,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “And regardless of what team we’re playing, we just go ahead and play. I don’t think the guys become timid against certain teams, regardless of their standing. We don’t look at that.”

“We know when a team has been playing hot, when a team has been playing good baseball. But that doesn’t tell us that we’ve got to upgrade our game or do anything like that. We just get ready to play every day.”

Taijuan Walker (5-2, 2.07 ERA) started New York’s string of impressive starts and will take the mound Tuesday. On Wednesday in Baltimore, he allowed one run on five hits in seven innings while striking out nine — his most since Sept. 1, 2017 when he pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Walker is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs. On April 20, he allowed three runs, two hits and six walks in 3 2/3 innings but since that rough start in Chicago he is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his past eight starts.

The Cubs did not have an at-bat with runners in scoring position Monday, and their offense consisted of homers by Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom in the seventh. Chicago saw a five-game winning streak stopped and was held to two runs for the second straight night after scoring 25 times in the first four games of its five-game winning streak.

“I didn’t see anything crazy wrong with tonight’s game,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I thought they pitched a really good game and made some defensive plays, and we just came up a little bit short.”

Chicago held Javier Baez out of the starting lineup for the second straight game, but he could start after pinch hitting Monday.

Chicago has won seven of its past eight visits to New York, is 17-4 in its past 21 regular-season games with the Mets and hopes Alec Mills (2-0, 6.08 ERA) can help them even the series before facing deGrom on Wednesday.

Mills is making his first start since April 13 at Milwaukee. He was activated last Tuesday after missing nearly a month with a lower back strain and pitched one inning at San Diego, marking the fifth straight appearance he allowed a run.

Mills is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two appearances (one start) against the Mets. He got the win April 21 against New York when he tossed three scoreless innings.

–Field Level Media

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