Nats Hope To Use Mets To Generate Cushion In NL East


After a frustrating series loss to the Miami Marlins, the Washington Nationals (85-54) are headed to Citi Field to play a team they have fared much better against this season: the New York Mets (65-75). From 21 games behind, the Mets are no real threat to the Nationals, but they can be of use to them in preserving or increasing their 5.5 game lead on the second-place Atlanta Braves. The Nationals will have to take those wins themselves during this series, as the Mets provided no help over the weekend when they were swept by the Braves and increased Atlanta’s winning streak to five games.

The Nationals have dominated the Mets this year, going 11-4 in total contests against them with a 5-1 record at Citi Field. The Nats will go for their sixth straight win at the Mets home park in the first game of the two teams’ final series of the year.

The Shutdowns

What would have been Stephen Strasburg's last start of the season will now be John Lannan's first official start as a member of the Nationals' five-man rotation, after Strasburg’s shutdown came sooner than expected. So far this year when given the opportunity, Lannan has proved to the Nationals that he is a pitcher they can rely on to round out one of the best rotations in baseball. In two chances with the big league club this season Lannan went a total of 13 innings, allowing five earned runs and striking out seven.

The Mets are also dealing with the impending shutdown of their rookie right-hander Matt Harvey, who the Nationals will see during this series. Harvey will make only two more starts before being shut down for the year after pitching 110 innings in Triple-A ball and 47.1 in the majors. His final start is projected to be on Sept. 19 against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Wins Race

Although Gio Gonzalez will not face R.A. Dickey during this series – like he has twice this year – the two pitchers are involved in a contest of their own. As the rankings stand now, Dickey and Gio have the most wins in the majors, tied at 18, and they will be racing each other towards 20. Gio pitches before Dickey in the series, so he will have the opportunity to be the first pitcher of the season to make it to 19 wins.

Dickey has the second lowest ERA (2.64) for qualified starters in the majors and the lowest in the NL, while Gio claims the 12th spot with his 2.98 ERA as the highest ranked National on the list.

Worth Noting

- Bryce Harper is 0-for-10 against Dickey with six strikeouts, while Ryan Zimmerman is 5-for-8 off him with a home run and only one strikeout. All active Nationals position players are batting .296 against Dickey.

- The Mets have lost five of their last eight games.

New York has scored 100 less runs at Citi Field (236) than they have at opposing ballparks (336), and have recorded 137 less hits there (650-517).

Who's hot?

Daniel Murphy (2B) .379 AVG, .419 OBP, .552 SLG, 1 HR (last seven games)

Ike Davis (1B) .316 AVG, .500 OBP, .526 SLG, 1 HR (last seven games)

Jon Rauch (RP) 0.00 ERA, .063 BAA, .118 OBP, 5.0 IP (last seven games)

Who's not?

Reuben Tejada (SS) .208 AVG, .296 OBP, .208 SLG, 0 HR (last seven games)

Ronny Cedeno (SS) .176 AVG, .222 OBP, .412 SLG, 1 HR (last seven games)

Probable starters

Gio Gonzalez (18-7, 2.98 ERA) vs. Collin McHugh (0-1, 3.27 ERA)

Jordan Zimmermann (10-8, 2.99 ERA) vs. R.A. Dickey (18-4, 2.64 ERA)

John Lannan (2-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. Matt Harvey (3-4, 3.04 ERA)

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.