Nationals vs. Mets Series Preview
On Tuesday night, the National League East’s fiercest rivalry will be renewed at Citi Field. The Mets recorded an 11-8 record against the Nationals in 2015 en route to their first division championship since 2006. Washington remains as the Mets’ most pressing threat to the division crown due to a cultural renovation by manager Dusty Baker. The Mets and Nationals are prepared to do battle with one another through September as they chase the Commissioner’s Trophy. Though this is just the beginning of a 6 month pursuit, both clubs are aware of the significance of this series.
Projected Pitching Matchups
5/18: Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.93) vs. TBD
Notes: The most appealing matchup of the series comes right from the onset. Scherzer and Syndergaard will showdown on the heels of historic performances- Scherzer struck out 20 batters and Syndergaard blasted 2 home runs last Wednesday. As for the finale, Harvey’s struggles have been well documented, but a solid showing against Strasburg in the finale would be the perfect way for The Dark Knight to jump back into the elite conversation.
Keys to win: Nationals
- Washington must protect Bryce Harper in order to succeed. Baker recently moved ex-Met Daniel Murphy into the 4-hole behind Harper to allow the MVP to see more quality pitches when he is at the plate. Murphy is hitting an even .400 since joining the Nationals. First baseman Ryan Zimmerman was the previous cleanup hitter but was dropped in the lineup as his batting average hovers around .230.
- Though Scherzer tied the Major League record by striking out 20 batters in his last appearance, the right-hander has actually struggled this year. Scherzer enters the series with a 4.15 ERA and was touched up against the Cubs prior to his historic outing. He must utilize his most recent appearance as a launching pad for continued production.
- The Nationals have struggled with capitalizing with runners in scoring position. Washington ranks just 21st in Major League Baseball with a .238 average with RISP, a mark that must improve if they hope to beat the Mets.
How will Daniel Murphy be received next week at Citi Field?
— LWOS New York Mets (@LWOS_NYMets) May 15, 2016
Keys to win: Mets
- Lefty specialist Jerry Blevins will play a crucial role for the Mets against the Nationals. Washington’s best two hitters, Harper and Murphy, both bat left-handed and are now next to each other in the lineup. It will be Blevins’ job to shut the duo down late in games. Lefties have a meager .192 batting average against Blevins in 2016.
- Harvey looks to avenge his murky beginning in the series finale. Harvey’s velocity is 3-4 MPH lower than in the past and the former All-Star has struggled with maintaining his poise deep into games. His ERA in innings 1-3 is a stellar 1.71 but inflates to 7.58 in innings 4-6. He has failed to reach the seventh inning of a game this season. Thursday night against Washington is the perfect platform for The Dark Knight to rise back into superstardom.
- David Wright will play a key role in the series as he attempts to set the tempo for the Mets offense. Though the captain is batting just .229, his hard hit ball percentage leads the Major Leagues at 47.5%. But Wright has been plagued by an inability to consistently make contact; he also leads the MLB in missed swing rate with a 39% mark. David must adjust his approach in order to take advantage of his hard hit ball percentage. If the Mets are to rekindle their offensive onslaught, David Wright must lead the way.