NEW YORK -- Dodgers starter Nate Eovaldi's struggles against left-handed hitters paved the way for Kirk Nieuwenhuis to make his first start since July 15 on Sunday.
In nine starts this season prior to Sunday, left-handed hitters boasted a .339 batting average against Eovaldi, who was 1-6 with a 4.33 ERA.
Nieuwenhuis was mired in a season-worst slump and had just two hits in 22 at-bats this month entering Sunday. But with the post All-Star break success of Andres Torres, manager Terry Collins has found it difficult to find places in the lineup for Nieuwenhuis. Sunday's pitching matchup provided an opportunity.
"I wanted to get him in the lineup," Collins said. "A lot of times when you write a lineup everybody thinks that you're benching somebody, and that's not the case."
Nieuwenhuis had a hot start to his rookie campaign, but his extended summer slump had his batting average at .259 entering Sunday. But Collins said that he has seen overall improvement in the past few weeks, even if the numbers don't indicate it.
"What he is learning is that there's got to be some adjustments that have got to be made, and he's worked very, very hard to make those adjustments," Collins said. "I thought his last couple games, even when he pinch-hit, his swings have been better, so I thought it'd be a good day to get him in there."
Batista designated for assignment by Mets
NEW YORK -- The Mets designated right-hander Miguel Batista for assignment on Sunday morning to clear a roster spot for reliever Elvin Ramirez, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo following Saturday's 8-5 loss to the Dodgers.
Batista allowed four earned runs to Los Angeles in an 81-pitch, three-inning effort on Saturday -- just his fifth start of the year.
"It was very tough, Miguel has done a great job here," manager Terry Collins said of the move. "Of course he's a first-class guy and he brings a lot to the party as far as a clubhouse presence.
"He's done a great job -- whenever you call his name he pitches. It was tough."
Ramirez, who was with the Mets earlier this season from June 1-22, was available out of the bullpen on Sunday. He held a 1.99 ERA in 29 Minor League games this season.
Hefner to start against Nats on Wednesday
NEW YORK -- Names in the New York Mets' starting rotation have been rotating so fast that it could make your head spin.
The Mets announced on Sunday that Jeremy Hefner would get the nod in Wednesday's series finale against the Nationals.
Friday and Saturday's starters -- Johan Santana and Miguel Batista, respectively -- each lasted just three innings against the Dodgers, forcing the Mets' bullpen to provide 12 combined innings of relief, which ultimately culminated in R.A. Dickey pitching Saturday's ninth inning. Hefner was a part of that effort -- he pitched two innings out of the 'pen on Saturday and tossed 47 pitches -- but Collins determined that the right-hander will be ready for Wednesday. Batista was designated for assignment Sunday.
After Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Dodgers, the Mets announced that their No. 2 overall prospect, Matt Harvey, would start the series opener against the D-backs in Arizona on Thursday.
Adam Rosenbloom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.