The defending National League East champion Nationals might be finding their footing again after a rough go of it out of the All-Star break, and they'll be turning to a rookie starter to keep the momentum going Sunday.
Taylor Jordan will get the ball with the Nationals seeking a four-game series win over the Mets, who will counter with Carlos Torres, a right-hander who has become a key component of the Mets' rotation of late.
The Mets are going with a six-man rotation in large part to keep Matt Harvey's and Zack Wheeler's innings in check so they can last the entire season, but it is Torres who helps give them the depth to do so.
"I think it's too early to determine how far we're going to go out with it," manager Terry Collins said of the six-man setup. "It all depends on what happens here -- my guess, in the next two or three weeks. If we continue to play pretty good, you look up and you're five or six [games] out, we'll have to determine what our next move is."
Torres debuted with the club in June after threatening to invoke an out clause in his Minor League deal. He had been solid at Triple-A Las Vegas before that, pitched out of the bullpen for his first 10 outings with the Mets and will be making his third start Sunday. In his first two starts, he allowed just two runs on 12 hits in 11 innings, battling his way through for a victory against the Braves in his last outing.
Meanwhile, Jordan's rookie numbers aren't overwhelming so far at 0-3 with a 3.68 ERA, but he's pitched well in his first handful of Major League starts. He's on an innings limit this season and has 20-30 remaining before he's shut down, according to manager Davey Johnson.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he thinks Jordan has earned a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation next year.
"Well, I think he's going to get every opportunity to be in the mix for the rotation next year, certainly," Rizzo said. "He's pitched extremely well. I like his stuff, I like his demeanor on the mound -- he shows the poise of a Major League pitcher and has the stuff for it."
Mets: Young back in the lineup
Eric Young Jr. came out of the play that left Braves pitcher Tim Hudson with a fractured ankle on Wednesday with a sore right knee of his own, but he was back in the lineup for the Mets on Saturday.
With the Mets' bench thin with non-DL injuries and the six-man rotation, Young's presence was welcome in the lineup again, and he went 1-for-4 with a run scored in his return to the leadoff spot.
Nationals: Walk-off man Zimmerman stays even
With his ninth career walk-off homer Friday, Ryan Zimmerman has now hit more walk-off homers before his 30th birthday than anyone in Major League history. Until Friday night, he was tied with Albert Pujols on that list.
Zimmerman, the longest tenured member of the Nationals, said the recent ups and downs -- the ups including walk-off homers by Zimmerman and Bryce Harper -- are part of what the Nationals will have to overcome to repeat in the NL East.
"That's baseball," he said. "Unfortunately, it's a roller-coaster ride, and we've been down more than we've been up this year. But we've just got to keep going. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. We've got to go out there every day and try to win."
• Despite Saturday's loss, the Mets already have more wins over the Nationals than they had all of last season with five. The 2013 series stands at 6-5 in Washington's favor, and the Nationals took the '12 series, 14-4.
• The clubs have two more series remaining this year: Aug. 30-Sept. 1 in Washington and Sept. 9-12 in New York.
• The Mets' road trip continues with the opener of a four-game series at Miami on Monday, while the Nationals will travel to Detroit for a two-game set starting Tuesday.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.