Mets-Pirates Preview

Though Noah Syndergaard is receiving plenty of attention during his first month in the majors, Gerrit Cole is further along in his rise to the ranks of baseball's top pitchers.

Syndergaard will try to make his case to stay up with the New York Mets on Friday night, while Cole looks to move into a tie for the major league lead with his sixth victory for the host Pittsburgh Pirates.

"It'll be exciting," Syndergaard said.

Syndergaard (1-1, 3.18 ERA) is poised to join Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom as a permanent fixture in New York's talented rotation. He was given an early audition for a spot this month when Dillon Gee went down with a groin injury.

In his much-anticipated debut, the right-hander allowed three runs over 5 1-3 innings of a 6-1 road loss to the Chicago Cubs on May 12. On Sunday, he gave up one run, three hits and one walk over six innings of a 5-1 home win over Milwaukee.

With Gee expected to be ready to return after one more rehab start, Syndergaard could be facing his final opportunity to force the Mets to make a difficult decision.

"I would love to stay," he told MLB's official website. "Nobody wants to be pitching at Triple-A. The ultimate goal is to be pitching in the big leagues."

The Mets (24-18) have won four of six. Lucas Duda hit two home runs and Michael Cuddyer added three hits in Thursday's 5-0 home victory over St. Louis that gave New York a four-game split of the series.

Duda has batted .372 in his last 12 games and has a 10-game hitting streak at Pittsburgh.

He's 1 for 3 against Cole (5-2, 2.40), who can tie four others for the major league lead in wins. Nobody has more victories than the right-hander since Sept. 7 - a stretch in which he's gone 9-2 with a 2.64 ERA over 13 starts.

Cole allowed two runs over six innings of Saturday's 4-1 road loss to the Cubs. He's given up two home runs in 48 2-3 innings in 2015.

However, he's posted an 8.00 ERA in dropping his two home starts against New York.

Pittsburgh (18-22) is 0-2 on its eight-game homestand after Wednesday's 4-3, 13-inning loss to Minnesota. The Pirates have scored three or fewer runs five times in a 1-6 stretch, during which the rotation has posted a 5.30 ERA.

"Nothing's played the way we wanted it to," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've had glitches in every category right now, hence our record ... We've got a lot of work in front of us."

Josh Harrison has been a bright spot, going 16 for 29 over his last six games. Andrew McCutchen, who went 3 for 5 with a home run Wednesday, is batting .379 during eight-game hitting streak against the Mets.

The Pirates have won five of the past seven home matchups.

New York is playing its only road games in a stretch of 13 of 16 at home.


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