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Pelfrey to make debut in doubleheader


Florida (37-46) at New York Mets (51-35), 1:20 p.m. ET

By Chris Girandola / MLB.com



Saturday's doubleheader will definitely have the feel of a highly scouted Minor League matchup featuring top prospects.

Not that this is Hagerstown, Binghamton or Norfolk, but with four rookie starting pitchers taking the mound, one would be hard pressed not to pull a double take when taking a seat in Shea Stadium.


Right-hander John Maine (0-2, 5.40 ERA) makes his third start of the year for the Mets against Florida's Josh Johnson (7-4, 2.34) in Game 1. Maine, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk on June 12, has allowed nine hits, seven runs (six earned), with five walks and 13 strikeouts in his two previous starts. On July 3, he lost, 11-1, to Pittsburgh when he lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up three hits and three runs, two earned, with three walks and seven strikeouts.


Johnson, who spent most of the 2005 season at Double-A Carolina before making his Major League debut with the Marlins on Sept. 10 at Philadelphia, beat Pedro Martinez on May 26 in his only appearance against the Mets this season. The 6-foot-7, 240-pound right-hander went seven innings in the Marlins' 5-1 victory, allowing one run, unearned, on two hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.


But the most anticipated appearance of the doubleheader occurs in the second billing as the Mets' highly touted pitching prospect, Mike Pelfrey, makes his Major League debut against Florida rookie Ricky Nolasco. Pelfrey, called up from Double-A Binghamton on Thursday to replace the injured Martinez, was the ninth overall pick last year out of Wichita State University, where he spent three years as a standout pitcher. The 6-foot-7, hard-throwing right-hander possesses a plus fastball with a developing curveball and changeup.


Pelfrey was 4-2 with a 2.71 ERA in 12 starts with Binghamton before being recalled. He gave up 60 hits, 23 runs (20 earned), with 26 walks and 77 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings. He began the season with Class A Port St. Lucie, where he was 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA in four starts.


"I'm looking forward to it," said Mets skipper Willie Randolph on Friday. "Anytime you have a guy come up with that type of ability, it's always a shot in the arm. We're just going to let it play itself out and see what he can do. The best part about him coming up at this time of the year is that it isn't a pressure situation. He can just go out, relax and pitch. After that, we'll make an assessment."


Nolasco (6-5, 3.97 ERA) makes his 10th start of the season and hopes to rebound from a 9-1 loss suffered against the Nationals on July 3. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound righty allowed seven hits and eight runs, seven earned, with one walk and two strikeouts in the loss. Nolasco spent the 2005 season with Double-A West Tennessee in the Cubs system and went 14-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 27 starts. He was acquired in a trade along with RHP Sergio Mitre and LHP Renyel Pinto in the offseason in exchange for Juan Pierre.


According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time four rookie starters squared off in a doubleheader was when Toronto faced Milwaukee on Aug. 7, 1977. That day, Jerry Garvin and Jim Clancy started for the Blue Jays and Lary Sorenson and Moose Haas took the mound for the Brewers. Toronto took both games, with each starting pitcher receiving a decision.


Pitching matchup

Game 1

FLA: RHP Josh Johnson (7-4, 2.34 ERA)

Johnson, who leads the Marlins with seven wins, has not received a loss since June 6 against the Giants, when he allowed two runs, both unearned, in a 2-1 loss.


NYM: RHP John Maine (0-2, 5.40 ERA)

Even though Maine's ERA isn't the best in the world, his command -- 13 strikeouts to five walks -- suggests he will give some quality starts soon.


Game 2

FLA: RHP Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 3.97 ERA)

Nolasco has a 50-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season in 20 games, nine of them starts.


RHP Mike Pelfrey (Major League debut)

Pelfrey's fastball has been clocked between 96-98 mph.


Player to watch

All eyes will be on Pelfrey as the 22-year-old pitcher makes his highly anticipated first start.


On the Internet


Gameday Audio

• Gameday

• Official game notes


On television

• Game 1: FOX

• Game 2: SNY


On radio

• WFAN 660 AM, WADO 1280 AM (Español)


Up next

• Sunday: Marlins (LHP Scott Olsen, 6-4, 4.17) at Mets (LHP Tom Glavine, 11-2, 3.43), 1:10 p.m.

• Monday: All-Star break

• Tuesday: All-Star Game

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Bases Loaded 2 out (John Maine up) nuthin. Bases Loaded 2 out ( D. Wright up) nuthin. Jose Reyes (pinch running) on second 1 out (LoDuca and Castro up) nuthin. Frustratin 3-2 loss. Miguel Cabera is a cry baby punk. :brooding:

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