Coming off of right shoulder surgery due to a blood clot, Mets right-hander Dillon Gee entered the season with 200 innings on his mind. He had never been within striking distance of that mark, and he wanted to prove he was capable of pitching well throughout an entire season.
Gee is within range, seven innings away from 200, and he'll look to reach that milestone in his final start of the season Thursday night against the Brewers at Citi Field.
"It means a lot," Gee said Saturday after his last start. "One of the main goals, especially coming off an injury, was to hit that 200-inning mark. I haven't been there yet."
But Gee has been impressive since pitching for his job at Yankee Stadium on May 30, going 10-4 with a 2.57 ERA and 103 strikeouts to 28 walks in 143 1/3 innings. He did a solid job his last time out, allowing four runs on seven hits over six innings in a rain-shortened win in Philadelphia.
"Dillon has just been doing that the entire second half," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He's made pitch after pitch."
Gee will line up opposite Brewers right-hander Johnny Hellweg, the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Hellweg is coming off perhaps his best start of the year against the Cardinals on Friday, when he held St. Louis to two runs over five innings despite giving up seven hits and walking five.
"I wasn't very efficient, but just effective enough to keep us there through five," Hellweg said afterward. "It's going to help me going into my next [start]."
Hellweg endured a 12-5 loss in his first meeting against the Mets on July 5 at Miller Park, where he allowed seven runs (three earned) on seven hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Both the Mets and Brewers have played in meaningful games in September, just not for themselves. With each team coming off a series against a playoff contender, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke does not believe there will be a drop-off in play between the two teams to finish the season.
"It's not going to be a drop-off in wanting to go out there and play well. It won't be," Roenicke said. "Just like when we played the Cubs [during the Brewers' final homestand] -- they're trying to show something, especially the young guys. And the veterans are trying to finish well. So I don't think it will be a drop-off in energy. I think they'll still go after it and try to finish on a good note."
Brewers: Gomez, Brewers leave Atlanta with hot tempers
The Brewers left Atlanta Wednesday with emotions running high after a first-inning fracas that concluded with the ejection of Carlos Gomez, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird.
While rounding the bases following a home run off Braves left-hander Paul Maholm, Gomez and Freeman exchanged words at first base and Gomez was seen motioning to his left knee around third base while jawing at Maholm. On June 23, Maholm hit Gomez in the knee and the Brewers' center fielder went on record saying he thought it was intentional.
Gomez was then met about 10 feet up from home plate by Braves catcher Brian McCann, leading to the clearing of both benches and a scuffle behind home plate.
• Milwaukee enters Thursday 34-43 on the road this season, but the Brewers are 17-11 over their past 28 road games. Their series loss in St. Louis from Sept. 10-12 snapped a streak of seven consecutive road sets without a series loss, and they're still 6-1-2 over their last nine series away from Miller Park.
• Gomez and Jean Segura enter Thursday tied for the National League lead in triples (10). They're also the first set of Brewers teammates to ever record 10 or more triples in the same season.
Mets: Black tabbed as backup closer option
Collins last saw Bobby Parnell at Citi Field, 30 pounds lighter and wearing a brace around his neck after surgery to repair a herniated disc. So it's natural for Collins to wonder if his closer will be ready to go when the 2014 season begins. If not, he's made it certain that role would be filled by rookie Vic Black, who picked up his first save Tuesday.
"I'm hoping and praying that Bobby Parnell comes back 100 percent," Collins said. "But ... I'm worried. And we've got to find somebody that certainly can pick that role up. The first time I saw Vic Black and the way he threw the ball, and the conversations I've had with him and the way I've seen him handle himself, I said, 'If Bobby's not 100 percent, we've got a guy who can step up there and do that.'"
• Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins had been unavailable recently due to triceps soreness, which Collins said is "indicative of fatigue." But he pitched a perfect ninth inning against the Reds on Wednesday, his first appearance since Sunday, to pick up his 101st career save.
• The Brewers entered Wednesday with a 17-11 record against the NL East.
• The Mets have yet to decide who will pitch in Sunday's season finale. It could be Jon Niese; if not, Collins said he would likely bring back Daisuke Matsuzaka on three days' rest.