Noah Syndergaard and the New York Mets face the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Photo by Ray Stubblebine/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK -- Clay Buchholz, the newest member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is equal parts familiar and unfamiliar to manager Torey Lovullo.
"I'm anxious to see what it looks like," Lovullo said Saturday afternoon. "I haven't seen him in over a year."
Neither has anyone else.
Buchholz is scheduled to make his first major league start in more than 13 months Sunday afternoon when the Diamondbacks try to avoid being swept by the New York Mets in the finale of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Mets built their first winning streak in more than a month Saturday night when they came back from a two-run, eighth-inning deficit to edge the Diamondbacks 5-4. Wilmer Flores lofted a walk-off sacrifice fly for New York, which tied the score in the eighth on Devin Mesoraco's two-run homer.
Buchholz is scheduled to oppose Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard (3-1, 3.14 ERA).
The Diamondbacks (25-20), who have lost nine of 10, will look for Buchholz to provide a spark as he returns against the same team he faced in his most recent big league outing on April 11, 2017. Buchholz, pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, took the loss after allowing six runs in 2 1/3 innings before exiting with a torn flexor tendon in his right arm in the Mets' 14-4 victory.
"I remember watching the highlight of him walking off the field, because I know him so well, (and) I saw that concerned look on his face," Lovullo said.
Buchholz signed with the Kansas City Royals on March 20 and made three minor league starts in their chain before opting out of his contract on May 1. He signed with the Diamondbacks three days later and went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts for Triple-A Reno before receiving a chance to replace injured Robbie Ray (oblique) in the rotation.
Signing with the Diamondbacks allowed Buchholz to reunite with Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, each of whom were in Boston for part or all of Buchholz's 10 seasons with the Red Sox from 2007 through 2016.
"I've known Clay for a long time," said Lovullo, who was the Red Sox's bench coach from 2013 to 2016 and served as interim manager when John Farrell was sidelined during the 2015 season because of cancer. "And I know that he wants to keep pitching and feels like he can still get outs and do things at a big league level. To get this opportunity, it's special for him. It's a good moment for him, to know he can still do this."
The Mets (22-19) will take the field with a little momentum for the first time in weeks. The back-to-back wins against the Diamondbacks are New York's first set of consecutive victories since a nine-game winning streak from April 3 to April 13.
Manager Mickey Callaway admitted after Saturday's win that the inability to mount even the smallest winning streak was beginning to creep into minds of the Mets.
"We were talking right before we came up in the ninth and we made it clear that we hadn't won in over a month, back-to-back games," Callaway said. "So that was big for us. Now we have to refocus and tomorrow's tomorrow. But for tonight, that was really big. And the way we came back and won it was even, probably, bigger."
Buchholz will be making his second career start against the Mets.
Syndergaard claimed the win in his previous start last Tuesday when he allowed two runs in five innings as the Mets beat the Toronto Blue Jays 12-2. He is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.