The final chapter of this year's Subway Series belongs to the new kids on the block. For the first time in the history of the intracity rivalry, both starters will be making their Major League debuts in Thursday's 7:05 p.m. ET contest.
The Yankees are planning to call up right-hander Chase Whitley, claiming a start that was initially penciled in for injured veteran CC Sabathia. The Mets were going with right-hander Dillon Gee, but when Gee was placed on the disabled list with a right lat strain, the club instead opted to hand the ball to right-hander Jacob deGrom.
"It seems to be all across the board in Major League Baseball," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You're seeing it a lot right now, where teams are scrambling because of injuries. It's unusual, but it just seems to be the state that the game's in right now, with all the injuries to pitchers."
And with those injuries come opportunities. Whitley was in Spring Training with the Yankees and had been used mostly as a reliever during his career in the Minors, though the Yankees converted him into a starting pitcher this year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
In seven games (six starts) with the RailRiders, Whitley was 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA. Featuring a plus changeup, Whitley was a 15th-round pick by the Yankees in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
The Mets will counter with their 13th-ranked prospect, deGrom, who was 4-0 with a 2.58 ERA for Triple-A Las Vegas. He's following Rafael Montero, who took the loss in his Major League debut against the Yankees on Wednesday but logged a quality start with six innings of three-run ball.
"I was surprised when they called me," deGrom said. "I didn't know if it would come as a reliever or a starter, which one it would be. I was thinking it would be a little later, but I'm really glad it happened now."
The Mets have never had their starting pitcher make their Major League debut in consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last time in the Majors that both pitchers were making their Major League debut was on Sept. 7, 2010, when the Mets' Gee faced the Nationals' Yunesky Maya.
"I don't care who you are and how highly touted you are, that first time you walk on a Major League field, there's a lot of emotions and a lot of adrenaline," Girardi said. "The first inning is usually your biggest worry with a guy like that."
Yankees: Jeter's Subway ride ends tonight
The Mets will commemorate Derek Jeter's final regular-season Subway Series game on Thursday, honoring the Yankees' captain in a 5:05 p.m. ET news conference.
Jeter has arguably enjoyed the Subway Series like no other player since Interleague play started in 1997. His .367 batting average against the Mets is the highest of any active player, and is third-best all time among those with at least 100 career at-bats against the Mets, trailing only Rico Carty (.380) and Don Slaught (.376).
The 2000 World Series Most Valuable Player, Jeter said that Fall Classic was the apex of the Subway Series for him, though he has fond memories of the first intracity meeting back in June 1997. The energy was palpable throughout the city, and the Yankees knew that winning the series was of the utmost importance to late principal owner George M. Steinbrenner.
"It was all new. You felt as though you had to win the series, like it was the World Series," Jeter said. "It was all anyone was talking about. We lost the first game, and it was almost the end of the world. It was a long time ago. Now, it's toned down a little bit, but it's still fun for us as players. You want to win regardless of who you're playing, but the atmosphere in the city was pretty special."
Mets: Farnsworth out, closer by committee in
The Mets outrighted Kyle Farnsworth after Wednesday's game, and the veteran reliever -- who was the team's closer as recently as Monday -- said that he was caught off-guard by the move.
"I am very bitter right now," Farnsworth said.
The move saves the Mets money, because Farnsworth had signed a 45-day consent waiver that guaranteed him cash if he was still on the team this weekend. It also gives the Mets a bit of roster flexibility with catcher Travis d'Arnaud's status still uncertain.
If the Mets feel d'Arnaud needs only a day or two to recover from his concussion symptoms, they can use the open roster spot to activate Juan Centeno as catching insurance, thereby avoiding putting d'Arnaud on the disabled list.
If d'Arnaud's injury does require a DL stint, the Mets can activate both Centeno and lefty reliever Josh Edgin.
• The last Major League team who had starting pitchers make their big league debut in consecutive games was the Brewers on Sept. 2-3, 2002 (Ben Diggins in Game 2 of a doubleheader, and Dave Pember).
• Thursday will mark the seventh time in Mets franchise history that pitchers (starters or relievers) have made their Major League debuts in back-to-back games. Most notably, it was done by Tom Seaver on April 13, 1967, and Jerry Koosman in relief on April 14.
• David Wright went 0-for-4 on Wednesday, halting his hitting streak at 11 games. Wright hit .392 (20-for-51) during the run, which dated back to May 2.
• Brett Gardner was 2-for-5 on Wednesday, marking his career-high-tying third consecutive multihit game. He has hit in eight straight games, dating to May 6, going 12-for-33 (.364) over that span.