Twenty-five-year-old Mets starter Collin McHugh will have a chance at redemption.
McHugh threw a two-hit shutout against the Rockies in his first start with New York last season, but couldn't find any consistency as a starter or a reliever after that. On Sept. 25, the wheels completely fell off. McHugh allowed seven earned runs in 1 1/3 innings during his last start of the season.
But in the wake of the announcement that Jon Niese would miss his start on Saturday against the Marlins, a door opened for McHugh. He received word that he'd be called up to get the spot start at Marlins Park, with a chance of earning another if Niese's injury lingers longer than expected.
"Obviously this time around, coming back up here, it's a little bit more familiar," McHugh said. "The nerves tend to be less of an issue. But at the end of the day, it's just a matter of execution. If you go out and execute, then you've got a pretty good chance."
McHugh hasn't had a hard time adjusting to off-the-field nerves of joining back up with a Major League team. After the Mets swept the Yankees on Thursday, McHugh tweeted some smack talk about his team's win in the Subway Series. He was told that kind of confidence should be saved for the field, and the tweet was deleted shortly after. The right-hander insists he's focused on the task at hand, which is staying sharp for the opportunity to compete when it's handed to him.
"I think I've done a pretty good job of trying to stay sharp, throwing bullpen [sessions] when I needed to, having guys stand in when I needed to," McHugh said. "It's exciting for me. That's where I feel at home, on the hill."
The Marlins will look to build on their 5-1 win over New York on Friday by starting rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez, who was unable to throw at least five innings in his last start for the first time since facing the Mets on April 29. Fernandez was pitching in front of his hometown fans at Tampa Bay, but he lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed four runs in a disappointing outing.
In his first outing against the Mets on April 7, Fernandez became the youngest Marlin to start a game in franchise history. He impressed, allowing one run in five innings while striking out eight, but he followed that effort by lasting just four innings during that April 29 start.
"He's had some ups and downs, which I think we all knew would happen," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I think we all knew there would be a learning curve for him. He's always responded well. He understands. Each start he makes, he's getting more and more comfortable in the big leagues."
Marlins: Hechavarria gets a breather
Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria received his first off-day since May 1 on Friday. Redman decided to give Ed Lucas his first career Major League start in his place.
Redman said Hechavarria is perfectly healthy, but he wanted to give his everyday shortstop a break mentally.
"He's played a lot and consecutive," Redmond said. "Sometimes, I just forget and let him go out there. I know it's important. Sometimes, you just need a mental day, just a day to just recharge your battery and stuff and get him back in there tomorrow."
Mets: Sticking with plan for Wheeler
The Mets are committed to Zack Wheeler for the future, and they want his ascension to the Majors to be for good. That's why they're waiting until after the Super 2 cutoff to call up their top pitching prospect. The Mets used the same strategy with Matt Harvey last season, and it's paid off in full this season. Harvey holds a 1.82 ERA, good for fifth in the league, entering Saturday's game.
McHugh's callup for Niese's spot start was because New York didn't want to demote Wheeler if he were to have a successful start.
• With his 3-for-4 game on Friday, Marcell Ozuna extended his MLB-leading hitting streak to 16 games.
• The Marlins ended a nine-game losing streak on Friday. It was their longest slide of the season.
Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.