It's no secret that as the season dwindles, all the Mets have left to do is act as a spoiler against contending teams, which they have done in this series with the Marlins by putting up 14 total runs and winning Tuesday's game.
But Wednesday starter Jacob deGrom still has reasons to turn in a solid performance when he takes the hill in the series finale at Marlins Park. The righty has been making a case for the National League Rookie of the Year Award since he was called up in mid-May.
Even though it took him eight starts to earn his first Major League win and he has just seven total victories, the 26-year-old has been a bright spot in New York's season. deGrom's seven wins are tied for second amongst all rookies and he has a 2.94 ERA in 18 starts.
"The experience has been unreal," deGrom said. "You dream of it as a kid, and even when you get up here it's a little more than you've imagined. To be mentioned in the Rookie of the Year thing is a great honor. I try not to think about it too much. I just try to go out there and pitch my game and let the rest take care of itself."
Wednesday won't be easy for the Marlins, especially since deGrom has allowed them one run in 14 innings over two starts this year. He actually notched that first career win in Miami on June 21.
So the Marlins -- who are 5 1/2 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot -- need Tom Koehler to be sharp and last longer than three innings in the series finale. Their starters totaled 5 1/3 innings in the first two games, forcing the bullpen to work overtime.
"That's two nights in a row where we haven't got much out of our starters," manager Mike Redmond said. "I've had to use a lot of bullpen guys and that's definitely a concern."
The good news is Koehler has thrown at least six frames in all but two of his eight second-half starts. He's also recorded a quality outing in his last three games -- but he only has one win to show for it.
Against the Braves on Friday, the 28-year-old didn't factor into the decision but he was effective, fanning six and yielding two runs on four hits in six innings.
Mets: Lagares encouraged to steal
As part of his plan to establish himself as a leadoff hitter, Juan Lagares is trying to become a bigger threat on the basepaths. Aided by manager Terry Collins and his staff, the outfielder has done exactly that -- in his last five games, he has stolen five bases, including two on Tuesday.
He had attempted just seven steals in 98 previous games, coming away successful on four of them. Lagares hadn't been as aggressive earlier this season for fear that his hamstrings weren't completely healthy. Now that they are, he is taking more risks.
"It's very important when you can steal bases," Lagares said. "That's what it's all about, [batting] leadoff, getting on base, try to steal a base and get in scoring position for the guys behind you to drive in a lot of runs. I think that's very important."
Marlins: Morris available again
Reliever Bryan Morris has been unavailable since he was diagnosed with a right groin strain last Wednesday. But Redmond confirmed Tuesday that Morris was finally able to pitch out of the bullpen again.
The right-hander threw a bullpen session on Monday and said he was ready to go. He did not enter Tuesday's game.
As a late-inning option, Morris has a 0.48 ERA in 37 2/3 innings since the Marlins acquired him from the Pirates on June 1.
• Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria drove his 10th triple of the season into right-center field on Tuesday night. He's tied with two others for second-most in the bigs.
• New York's Carlos Torres, who gave up one hit in one inning on Tuesday, leads all NL relievers with 77 innings pitched this season.
• In addition to two swipes, Lagares set a single-game career high with four hits on Tuesday.
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.