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Dodgers face tough test with Mets in town

Yoenis Cespedes has 28 home runs and a .633 slugging percentage in 83 regular season games with the Mets.
Yoenis Cespedes has 28 home runs and a .633 slugging percentage in 83 regular season games with the Mets.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are back home to face the team that ousted them from last year's playoffs, with the Mets in town for a four-game series beginning Monday night in Los Angeles.

New York has carried over its second-half success of 2015 into 2016, entering play Monday a half-game up in the National League East on the Nationals, the two best non-Cubs teams in the NL this season.

The Mets' transformation from also-ran to pennant winner actually began when playing the Dodgers, in the middle of a four-game series in July at Citi Field. New York acquired Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Braves, and while neither were spectacular players they did represent a massive upgrade on offense for a team that started John Mayberry fourth and Eric Campbell fifth in its lineup last July 23.

Uribe and Johnson joined the team two days later, and from July 25 through the end of the season the Mets scored a whopping 5.42 runs per game, scoring more runs (352) in their final 65 games than they did in their first 97 games of last year (331).

The team was and is built around its fantastic starting pitching staff, and the question always was would they get any kind of offense to support it. All they needed was average players in some spots for an upgrade, which is what Uribe and Johnson helped bring, but the team's production was extraordinary.

The big acquisition was Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers at the trade deadline. He hit .287/.337/.604 with 17 home runs in his two months in New York, and re-signed with the Mets as a free agent.

He comes into Los Angeles even hotter, with four home runs in his last seven games, including one in each of his last two contests, hitting .299/.376/.701 with 11 home runs in 26 games.

Cespedes is joined by Michael Conforto, settling in nicely in left field in his first full season, hitting .291/.373/.544, and a healthy David Wright, hitting .258/.405/.472.

New second baseman Neil Walker picked up right where postseason power supply Daniel Murphy, now in Washington, left off. Walker, whose career high is 23 home runs, slugged nine home runs in April, though he is just 2-for-24 in May, including 0 for his last 20.

Dodgers left-hander Scott Kazmir will have to face that Mets offense in the series opener on Monday, just his fourth career start against the franchise that drafted him, 15th overall in the first round in 2002.

Kazmir is 1-1 with a 4.80 ERA in his three starts against the Mets, coming in 2013-2014, with 22 strikeouts and four walks in 15 innings.

It's a battle of southpaws on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, with Steven Matz coming in having allowed just two runs in his last 27 innings, with three scoreless starts in his last four outings.

Game info

Time: 7:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA