Baxter bats lead-off as Mets take on Buccos tonight

With Andres Torres having issues at the plate recently, Terry Collins has penciled Mike Baxter into the lead-off spot tonight for New York’s game against James McDonald and the Pirates.

Here’s the rest of the Mets lineup:

Baxter will play left field with Nieuwenhuis in center so hopefully any offense they produce tonight at the top of the order is not offset by another embarrassing defensive miscue. Also, Ike Davis is back in there against the right-handed McDonald, but some skeptics think that it’s only a matter of time before Davis finds himself in the Buffalo Bisons lineup.

On Sunday, Terry Collins suggested Davis could be sent to the minor leagues, telling reporters “There is nothing etched in stone. We will never, never say something is not going to happen. What we’re trying to do is make sure is we wring the rag dry.”

So much opinion! When Jason Bay comes back, I’d much sooner send down Nieuwenhuis, who strikes out even more than Davis does. On the flip side, it wouldn’t kill me if Davis went to triple-A, but I just don’t see the point of it for a team that doesn’t have an obvious replacement (Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy can play first, but then who steps in for those guys?). Plus, it remains a fact that the Mets’ postseason chances are very, very slim, so they can certainly afford for Davis to swing his way out of this.

The dude on the mound for Pittsburgh is Jame McDonald. He’s a righty with great stuff who has never had it totally click at the major league level. However, this season so far he’s put together some stellar work with 50 strikeouts and 16 walks in 50.1 innings. That bit of awesomeness has resulted in a 2.68 ERA, 2.50 FIP and 1.01 WHIP for McDonald. In his last start, which was in Washington, he somehow allowed three runs in five and two-thirds innings despite striking out 11 batters with only one walk.

Last season, McDonald combined to pitch 12 innings in two starts against the Mets. In those innings, he allowed three runs while striking out seven and walking five. This season, McDonald’s walks are way down, so this year’s Mets should have to work a little harder to get on base. Back in 2010, Davis hit three doubles in seven plate appearances versus McDonald, so hopefully tonight proves fruitful for the beleaguered first baseman.

This is very similar to yesterday’s Pittsburgh lineup, except lefty Garrett Jones is in at first base and former Met Rod Barajas is behind the plate. Last season, Josh Harrison was 4 for 7 versus Dickey, but knuckleballer pitched pretty well in general versus the Bucs, with 14 striekouts, four walks and four runs allowed in 15.2 innings.

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