CHICAGO— It’s that time of year in Major League Baseball. Teams who are no longer in the race get a good look at what their future holds. For the Mets, it’s no different.

Alive only mathematically in the NL playoff race, they will start a young pitcher for the first time in his career. 20-year-old Jenrry Mejia will get the call this afternoon, after impressing during his past three Minor League starts.

In six starts for Double-A Binghamton, Mejia went 2-0 with an outstanding ERA of 1.32. His last start was an extremely impressive one for Triple-A Buffalo. In eight innings, he allowed one run on five hits. He walked one—issued in the eighth inning—and struck out nine.

He hit close to 100 miles per hour on the gun and looked ready to be called up to replace Pat Misch in the Mets rotation. Afterall, it’s not Misch who’ll be vying for a spot in next year’s rotation, but it’s the 20-year-old flamethrower.

It’s not as if Mejia hasn’t had any big league experience. He did make the team out of spring training, and pitched in 30 games out of the bullpen early in the season. He wasn’t bad, pitching to a 3.25 ERA, but his walks were an issue. He walked 15 batters in 27.2 innings, coming out to one every 1.8 innings pitched.

While in Binghamton, he virtually pitched to the same walks per innings pitched ratio (27.1 IP, 14 walks). His last start in Triple-A was the biggest sign of his young career that perhaps he’s gaining more control of the strike zone.

Mejia will most likely make his final five starts of the season for the Mets, unless he’s absolutely terrible. When he makes the start tomorrow, he’ll become the youngest Met pitcher to start a game since Dwight Gooden.

Opposing Mejia for the Cubs will be the hot-headed Carlos Zambrano. He was suspended by the Cubs without pay for a while earlier in the season for a dugout tirade.

After six stellar seasons in Chicago, Zambrano’s career has gone south. From 2003-2008, he went 91-51, and looked like a Hall of Fame-type ace. Emotional problems have gotten the best of him over the past couple of seasons to slow him down, although he still is only 29-years-old.

The Cubs brought him back on July 31 and inserted him into the bullpen to make three relief outings. Since reclaiming his starters role, he has been dominant. Over his last five starts, he’s gone 3-0 with an ERA of only 1.84.

His last start came against the Pirates on Monday, a game the Cubs won, 14-2. He earned his third straight win, pitching 5.1 innings. He allowed an unearned run on four hits, and struck out seven.

The Mets offense came to life yesterday, scoring six or more runs for the first time in 10 games. Their luck is, of course, that it was in a loss.

But, they did have many positive signs, especially from the bat of David Wright. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs batted in, falling a triple shy of the cycle. He’s two home runs and 10 RBI away from his fifth 25-home run, 100-RBI season.

Angel Pagan in his first start back from a wrist injury, recorded three hits as well, and rookie Lucas Duda got his first Major League hit on an RBI double. All in all, the offense was not a problem on a day R.A. Dickey just couldn’t beat the Wrigley Field wind.

They’ll hope to see positive things from their rookie pitcher today, looking to even the series with the Cubs.

Jenrry Mejia this season (30 games in relief)
0-2, 3.25 ERA, 27.2 IP, 29 hits, 15 BB, 17 SO

Carlos Zambrano vs. New York (April 20)
Loss, 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 hits, 3 BB, 9 SO

2010 season series (New York vs. Chicago)
April 19: New York 6, Chicago 1
April 20: New York 4, Chicago 0
April 21: Chicago 9, New York 3
April 22: New York 5, Chicago 2

Sept. 3: Chicago 7, New York 6
Mets lead series 3-2

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