The Mets spent most of last season looking forward to every one of Matt Harvey's outings, eager to see what their budding ace could do in his first full big league season.
The Cardinals seem to be in the middle of something similar with Michael Wacha.
Wacha, who has dominated the National League so far this season, will return to the mound for a 7:10 p.m. ET game Wednesday against the Mets at Citi Field. Though he is coming off a hard-luck loss to the Nationals, Wacha brings a 2-1 record and 1.73 ERA into the game, with 25 strikeouts and three walks in 26 innings. He has done it by developing into a more complete pitcher than he was as a rookie, relying less on his fastball-changeup combo and more on the entirety of his arsenal.
"Michael was a guy, I believe, who saw what he had to do to stay on top -- 'The league is going to try and figure me out, my trends, my tendencies, and I better be able to mix some more things in there,'" Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "He's definitely taken steps forward with his game and using his other pitches much better."
Wacha will match up Tuesday against left-hander Jon Niese, who has settled into his own groove after beginning the year on the disabled list. Showing no ill effects from the sore left elbow that sidelined him (nor the sore left shoulder that preceded it), Niese has reeled off a 2.84 ERA over his first three starts, striking out a season-high seven last time out against the Braves.
"I thought I didn't have my best stuff, but I battled through it," Niese said. "I was able to locate from the fourth inning on and get outs when I really needed them."
Mets: Granderson hoping to bust out of slump
Curtis Granderson extended his hitless slump to a career-long 22 straight at-bats in the sixth inning Tuesday. He has struck out eight times over that stretch with one walk.
"I've definitely had some [slumps] over the course of my career," Granderson said. "I don't remember exactly what was the turning point or what caused the turning point, but eventually it did come. That's the one thing I do remember. So I'm continuing to stay positive with all those different things and realizing it is a part of the game."
For now, the Mets are making no changes to their lineup as Granderson attempts to work his way through this funk. By batting Granderson second ahead of David Wright, manager Terry Collins hopes to force opposing pitchers to throw him more fastballs.
Cardinals: Bourjos looking to make an impact
Scuffling outfielder Peter Bourjos should be back in the lineup Wednesday against the southpaw Niese.
Bourjos was out of the lineup Tuesday for the third time in four games, due to the 0-for-8 funk that has dragged his average down to .190 with a .570 OPS. The Cardinals still value Bourjos' speed and defensive ability, but they need him to produce more at the plate.
"He's just trying to find his swing, like about half our lineup," Matheny said. "He's got the right approach. He's trying to stay through the ball. He's just finding himself in deep counts and trying to hit tough pitches. It doesn't usually work out for anybody."
Bourjos' replacement in Tuesday's lineup, Jon Jay, delivered a two-run single for the Cardinals in the fourth, finishing 2-for-4.
• With an 0-for-4 night Tuesday against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals, Wright snapped his hitting streak at 12 games. The third baseman's run was a franchise-record 18th double-digit streak of his career.
• Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a single in the fourth inning Tuesday. That made Molina's run the third-longest active streak in the big leagues, behind Miami's Christian Yelich the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez (16 games apiece).
• Triple-A Las Vegas first baseman Allan Dykstra was named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Week after hitting .450 with two home runs and 10 RBIs from April 14-20. Dykstra posted a .593 on-base percentage over the week.