With a halt finally put to their six-game downward spiral, the Washington Nationals (49-53) will face the New York Mets (45-53) fresh off their first win in 11 days.
Though the National are just 1-6 since the All-Star break, compared to the Mets’ 4-3 record, their walk-off victory on Thursday is bound to leave some residual excitement on the field as Washington was reminded was winning felt like. The Nationals will try to carry that energy into the first game of their day-night double-header to open the series.
The Mets and the Nats had nearly polar opposite expectations of them going into this season, yet somehow they are meeting with nearly identical records and only two games separating them in the National League East standings. This series will be decisive, if only for cosmetic purposes, as a good showing by either team will push the other firmly into fourth place.
For the Nationals, sitting in fourth place in a division they were picked to dominate would be quite the embarrassment.
Two Aces, One Day
Friday’s double-header will showcase the teams’ best two pitchers, though Jordan Zimmermann will pitch the day game and Matt Harvey will pitch at night.
Nationals hitters have a .143/.192/.265 slash line against Harvey in two games this season, and Harvey has a 1.29 ERA against them with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched. Harvey’s 2.08 night ERA (10 starts) is slightly better than his 2.39 day ERA (10 starts).
Against the Mets, Zimmermann carries a 1.38 ERA with eight strikeouts in 13 innings, and has held them to a .133/.216/.289 slash line his two starts against them this season.
Zimmermann has had much more success at night this year, pitching for a 2.64 ERA that stands in contrast to his 4.62 daytime ERA. However, his five day starts make up a small sample size compared to 15 starts at night.
Coming off one of the worst outings of his career, Zimmermann is bound to be anxious to return to his former dominance, regardless of how brightly the sun is shining.
Zimmermann has been getting the second-most run support of any Nationals starter – 4.40 runs per start. With any luck for Zimmermann, the Nats will continue that trend of support on Friday after just breaking out of a 14-game sequence during which they averaged only 2.9 runs per game. The nine runs the Nationals scored on Thursday marked the most they scored since July 7, when they beat the San Diego Padres 11-7.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .300 AVG, .417 OBP, 1.050 SLG, 5 HR, 8 RBI (last six games)
Marlon Byrd (RF) .348 AVG, .400 OBP, .696 SLG, 2 HR, 5 RBI (last six games)
Daniel Murphy (2B) .333 AVG, .391 OBP, .476 SLG, 4 RBI, 1 SB (last six games)
Eric Young (RF) .091 AVG, .200 OBP, .091 SLG, 5 SO, 4 SB (last six games)
Omar Quintanilla (SS) .111 AVG, .238 OBP, .111 SLG, 4 SO (last six games)
7/26, Jordan Zimmermann (12-5, 3.01 ERA, .232 BAA, 96 SO) vs. Jenrry Mejia (0-0)
7/26, Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 2.03 ERA, .198 BAA, 21 SO) vs. Matt Harvey (8-2, 2.23 ERA, .192 BAA, 157 SO)
7/27, Dan Haren (4-11, 5.79 ERA, .297 BAA, 87 SO) vs. Dillon Gee (7-7, 4.07 ERA, .277 BAA, 92 SO)
7/28, Taylor Jordan (0-3, 3.68 ERA, .308 BAA, 14 SO) vs. Carlos Torres (1-1, 0.94 ERA, .234 BAA, 26 SO)