After Daniel Murphy rested during the Mets' loss to Oakland on Tuesday, New York will have one of its best weapons back against A's starter Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday.
Murphy, who's 3-for-6 with a homer in his career against Samardzija, rested on Tuesday at the insistence of manager Terry Collins, who thinks Murphy's recent slump is just the result of fatigue over a long season.
"He [knew] he needed it," Collins said. "With a day off on Thursday, it kind of gives him two days off this week to maybe regenerate those batteries a little bit. You can start to see when Dan's swing gets a little long, he's out of gas, because he knows how to hit. He doesn't go through these long stretches where he's not swinging good."
Oakland is enduring a slump of its own, having lost seven of its last nine contests. The A's have also scored three runs or fewer in seven of their last nine games, so Samardzija might have to be at his best on Wednesday. The A's did end their five-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Mets on Tuesday.
Samardzija doesn't have good career numbers against the Mets (0-2, 7.00 ERA in two starts and eight appearances), but he hasn't faced them since July 2012.
His counterpart, Zack Wheeler hasn't lost since June 25, a span of nine starts that's seen him hurl at least six innings and 100 pitches each time out.
In his last outing against the Cubs, Wheeler tied his season-high with 10 strikeouts and threw 120 pitches, the most in any appearance in his professional career. He allowed just two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings, but also walked four and hit a batter.
"The big thing is trying to keep my pitch count down, and I really haven't been able to do that," Wheeler said.
Mets: deGrom eyes Saturday return to rotation
Jacob deGrom faced live hitters in a bullpen session Tuesday with the intention of coming back from the disabled list for Saturday's game against the Dodgers. He's been out since Aug. 8 with right rotator cuff tendinitis.
"I'm fully expecting that I'm fine," deGrom said. "I plan to pitch to the end of the year."
That assumes both that deGrom will not experience any lingering effects in his right shoulder, and that he will not surpass the innings limit of approximately 185 that the Mets have set for him.
Regarding the former issue, deGrom said he threw "with no problems" Tuesday and fully intends to start this weekend.
"I'm ready to get out there," said deGrom, who threw his complete repertoire in the session. "We don't want to rush it, but everything's going to plan right now."
A's: Hammel's next rotation turn to be skipped
With off-days this week on Monday and Thursday, the A's have decided to skip Jason Hammel's start originally scheduled for Friday against the Angels. Hammel is expected to rejoin the rotation during the following series in Houston next week.
"With these off-days, we've manipulated a little bit here," said A's manager Bob Melvin before Tuesday's matchup with the Mets. "But we still know that this is a guy that's very important to us and we have to get him going."
Hammel will be available out of the bullpen on certain days during this five-game homestand, depending on when he does his side work. The right-hander plans to push "a little bit harder" than he normally would in those sessions, according to Melvin.
In seven starts since being traded from the Cubs, Hammel is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA.
Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Scott Kazmir will each move up a day to face the division-rival Angels on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That still gives Gray and Lester an extra day of rest, while Kazmir gets the typical four days off between starts.
• Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis sat out Tuesday's game with a stiff neck sustained on the team's cross-country plane ride. His status for Wednesday is unclear.
• A's outfielder Craig Gentry (broken right hand) went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.