This Could Be Fun (But Usually It Isn’t): The Mets are 35-37 at Nationals Park all-time. But between 2012-2014 they were 10-17. During that stretch, it was awful facing the Nationals. It just felt like they consistently smacked us around. That’s why the success we had against them last season was so big. We went 6-3 in Washington. The success against the Nats and particularly the success in Washington was one of the big differences for the 2015 Mets. That success started with our pitching, but it really all came together with the addition of Yoenis Cespedes. Once again, we will need him to lead our offense if we are going to come away from this Washington series with Ws.
Yo Loves The Capitol: Yoenis Cespedes was 6 for 14 with 3 doubles and 2 dingers at Nationals Park last season. It may take forever for the politicians on Capitol Hill to re-establish relations with Cuba, but Yo will be leaving his Cuban mark on Washington before this series is over, that I assure you.
Game 1: Bartolo Colon vs. Gio Gonzalez
Gio has been lights out this year with a 1.86 ERA. He’s 10-4 lifetime against the Mets with a 2.59 ERA in 18 games. He beat the Mets last week at Citi Field going 6.1 innings and giving up a run. The Mets have been bad against lefties this year. But this guy isn’t going anywhere. So we need to figure out a way to beat him. Paging David Wright. Notable Numbers: Juan Lagares is 11 for 29 with a home run against Gio, and David Wright is 6 for 24 with a home run.
Bart’s recent outing against the Dodgers was ugly. His outing last week against the Nats at Citi was gross (4.2 innings pitched, 3 runs, 5 hits, 5 walks). He only had one start against the Nats last year, and it came right out the gate in April. He went 6 innings, gave up 1 run and struck out 8. He needs a Big Sexy rebound start in a big way otherwise we officially have two struggling starters in our rotation.
Game 2: Matt Harvey vs. Stephen Strasburg
The Nationals have won 13 straight Strasburg starts. He smacked the Mets around last week at Citi going 6 innings, giving up 1 run and striking out 10. Notable Numbers: Yoenis Cespedes is 2 for 5, David Wright is 7 for 25 and Neil Walker is 5 for 14 against Strasburg.
I thought last week’s Harvey start against the Nats where he gave up 9 runs (6 ER) in 2.2 innings was rock bottom. I thought for sure the Mets would skip his next start. Nope. He’s going right back out there and this time in the lion’s den. The Mets watched him throw a bullpen session this weekend, and apparently he looked good. Harvey officially has the Mets stamp of approval so it looks like we can put this Harvey debate to bed right? We’re all confident that he’s figured things out right?!? On a related note, is there a word that means “lower than rock-bottom”?
Game 3: Steven Matz vs. Tanner Roark
Tanner Roark was the odd man out of the rotation for the Nats during much of last season. He made 12 starts in 2015 and was swinging back and forth between the pen and the rotation. This year he’s rejoined the rotation full time, and he’s been very good. He’s 3-3 with a 2.89 ERA. He made one start against the Mets last year in October. He went 6 scoreless innings. He made 4 relief appearances against the Mets last year and for the most part was effective. The only time he surrendered any runs came on July 21st where he got rocked in Washington and gave up 4 runs in a third of an inning. Notable Numbers: Curtis Granderson is 6 for 16, Neil Walker is 2 for 5, and Rene Rivera is 3 for 8.
Steven Matz didn’t face the Nats last year. He missed those big series late in the season recovering from that abdominal injury. But he’s been a rookie of the year stud this year. I hope he’s in a position to help the Mets win the series or even sweep. He dominated Milwaukee this past Friday going 7 innings, and giving up 2 runs with 8 strikeouts.
Things To Look For:
Hot Nats 2.0: So nothing has really changed since last week. Daniel Murphy is still leading the league in hitting and destroying every pitcher he faces thanks to whatever remains of his Kevin Long pixie dust supply. Anthony Rendon is hitting .458 in his last 7 games. After his cold start to the season it appears he is rounding into form. Jayson Werth is hitting .333 in his last 7 games, but he did hit into a horrendous 9th inning bases loaded double play this weekend against the Marlins.
Penmanship: So the Mets have the best pen ERA in the league. But the Nationals pen has been fantastic as well. The Nats and Mets have the same strengths. Pitching, Pitching, Pitching.
Conforto Feeling The Heat: Michael Conforto has 3 dingers and is hitting .300 in his last 7 games. Some of Noah Syndergaard‘s scorching fastball heat must be warming Conforto up. Thor throws fire, loves Game of Thrones, and is clearly casting his light upon Conforto. I wouldn’t want to step foot near Harvey’s East Village apartment. That place must be colder than the ice cells at Castle Black.
Duda Dunzo 2.0: Lucas Duda spent Monday morning at the Hospital For Special Surgery being probed by Ray Ramirez. Ray is probably in the hospital men’s room right now grabbing Kleenex for the Duda “tissue sample”. Lucas going on the DL is a lock. Obviously I’m upset about Duda’s back injury considering we have no real alternative, but in truth he’s been MIA at the plate lately. If he had been on one of his burning hot streaks, I’d be devastated. That doesn’t mean his absence in the lineup won’t have a negative impact, but I suppose it makes the injury sting slightly less. Pray for Duda.
Playing Short Is Dumb: Speaking of the Duda injury, I wrote about it in my last Nationals series preview a week ago. We’ve played shorthanded now for six straight games. Playing with a short bench is the Mets favorite strategy. I still can’t believe the Mets twiddle their thumbs for as long as they do when it comes to injuries. Also, on the subject of short, how great has Asdrubal Cabrera been? Other than Cespedes and Conforto, he’s been the only real constant on offense. At some point, this guy is going to hit a rough patch and lose himself at the plate. It happens to everyone at one point or another over the course of the season. Let’s just hope by then someone else in the lineup wakes up and picks up the slack. Yeah, I’m looking at you Neil Walker. The guy has been spiraling into oblivion since he started on pace for 70 home runs. He’s .188 in his last 15 games and .167 in his last 7 games. Yuck.
Lil’ Late For New Gloves: Alejandro De Aza recently grabbed a first basemen glove to try and increase his versatility. People are calling for Neil Walker to grab a first basemen glove. I’ve even seen fans say Travis d’Arnaud should take a break from downing platelet-rich plasma smoothies in Cali to take some reps at first base. Umm I said this in February, but what the hell were the Mets thinking this spring? We never had a backup first basemen other than Eric Campbell. We claimed Wilmer Flores was the backup first basemen, but he played like two spring games at the position. How the hell did we not have d’Arnaud, Wilmer, and Kevin Plawecki out there taking grounders every single day? Duda spent time on the DL last season. This injury was a lock. This was a predictable scenario, and the Mets really blew their chance to get ahead of it.
The Blood Of The First Men: The Mets are likely to promote someone from Triple-A Vegas for the Nationals series once Lucas Duda is placed on the DL. Rumor has it Ty Kelly has arrived in Washington. Ty is a 27 year old journeyman utility infielder/outfielder and look at this guy:
Ty Kelly looks like he was out foraging for fruits and nuts when a time traveler showed up and brought him to the future to test his baseball skills. The blood of the Neanderthal flows through his veins. Considering he’s a minor league journeyman, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to find out he spends his offseason filming History Channel “Early Man” specials. But in all seriousness, he’s hitting nearly .400 in Vegas. Now we all know offensive numbers in Vegas are super inflated due to the thin air. But no matter where you are playing, if you lead the league in hitting, you deserve some praise. If he does get promoted, let’s just hope Ty doesn’t crack open a teammates skull with his bat and drag him back to his cave (which I’m assuming will be on the basement level of the Washington Marriott Hotel).
Today: Let’s ride the Brewers series victory wave and take the good vibes on the road tonight. Let’s go Big Sexy.