Looking to cap an impressive first half, Jacob deGrom will face the Marlins for the second time in a month Sunday, though his first outing against them will be hard to top. The rookie right-hander spun seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits and three walks while striking out seven on June 21. It was the first win of his young career.
It was also his best performance in the Majors until Tuesday, when he shut out Atlanta for seven innings while fanning 11 and issuing no free passes. The Mets also scored eight times for him, the most run support he's had in his short career.
"It was nice to have run support, because you can just go right after guys," deGrom said after the game. "You can attack the hitters, really go after them. If they get a hit, so what? Try to get a double play."
On the season, deGrom owns a 3.38 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP while striking out nearly a batter per inning. Out of his 11 outings, seven have been quality starts.
The Marlins, meanwhile, will call on Brad Hand. The start will be the lefty's third since coming off the disabled list and fifth of the season. Hand has been effective in his first two outings, giving up three earned runs in 11 1/3 innings, including a 6 1/3-inning performance at Arizona on Tuesday in which he didn't allow a run, but also took a no-decision.
Hand, who broke in as a starter before joining the bullpen at the beginning of this season, is 0-2 with a 2.95 lifetime ERA against the Mets in seven games (three starts).
A challenge for Hand is Mets third baseman David Wright, who has hit Marlins' pitching hard throughout his career. Wright, for instance, matched his career high with four hits on Friday night. Hand, however, has limited Wright to one hit in eight at-bats.
"As careful as we try to be with him, it seems like we can't be careful enough," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said about Wright. "He seems to find a way to get a big hit. We've got to try to keep out of situations where we have to pitch to him, or at least, not give him a good pitch to hit. We haven't been able to do that."
Marlins: Improvement from a year ago
Despite experiencing some setbacks in the last few weeks, the first three months of the Marlins' season have been rewarding in a sense. At least when compared to 2013, when the Marlins finished with 100 losses and were 35-58 at the All-Star break.
Miami's solid half has come despite losing Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery in mid-May.
The rotation has patched things up since Fernandez's injury. Hand is one of 10 different starters the team has used in the first half.
Mets: Starters going deep of late
When Terry Collins pulled Zack Wheeler with two outs in the seventh inning on Friday -- Wheeler, who was pitching well, said the manager wanted a lefty-lefty matchup -- it was the first time in five days a Mets starter failed to finish the seventh. Since Wheeler lasted 6 1/3 in his previous outing, Daisuke Matsuzaka, deGrom, Dillon Gee and Bartolo Colon all went deep (while allowing a combined four runs).
Consistent starting pitching is one of the reasons the club has been so successful this homestand.
"You run into those situations where your starting pitching has really run you deep into a game, which is how you start to win," Collins said. "Sometimes it gets to the point where, 'Hey look, you need a game out of your starters because your bullpen's getting all worn out when they don't do it.' It's a lasting effect for a few days."
• Marlins left fielder Christian Yelich has been wielding a hot bat since returning from the DL on June 29. He hit a homer in the fifth inning on Saturday, which was his second since coming back. He is hitting 18-for-53 with 10 runs, a triple and seven RBIs in 12 games.
• Mets reliever Jeurys Familia has allowed one earned run in 14 2/3 innings (0.63 ERA) over the last month.
• Right-hander Jeremy Hefner, who had Tommy John surgery last August, took a big step on Saturday. He pitched a perfect inning for the Gulf Coast League Mets, his first game action since the procedure.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.