The Washington Nationals (21-19) are coming home, where they will again be tasked with asserting their dominance over sub-.500 teams. This time their opponent will be the New York Mets (19-21), who the Nats have not faced since sweeping them to open the season.
After a disappointing road trip out west – during which the Nationals were swept by the Oakland Athletics but won two of three over the Arizona Diamondbacks – the Nats could use the Mets’ weaknesses to get back into the swing of things at home.
The Mets aren’t short on weaknesses with one of the worst offenses in MLB and a pitching staff that has been sputtering along amid a slew of injuries.
The Mets’ slash line of .229/.304/.346 is third, fourth and second worst in the majors. Mets hitters have struck out 361 times, fifth worst in baseball. The offense is averaging four runs per game, but the team has a run differential of negative six.
Their numbers were boosted by an offensive outburst in the first two games of their most recent series against rival New York Yankees, in which they scored a total of 21 runs, but in the final two games they failed to score at all.
The Nationals’ .249/.313/.396 slash line is markedly better than the Mets’, but it hasn’t helped them score any more runs. The Nats are averaging 3.9 runs per game and have a run differential of zero.
Against the Mets’ pitching, though, the Nationals should be able to hit well in their own ballpark. If they can make it past Jon Niese, whose 2.17 ERA makes him the Mets’ most dominant pitcher, Nats hitters will then face Bartolo Colon and Zack Wheeler, who have 5.84 and 4.53 ERAs respectively.
Overall, the Mets’ pitching staff has been decent with a 3.90 ERA, which ranks in the middle of the pack. However, the pitchers are prone to give away free bases and to allow balls to leave the park. They have walked 142 batters and surrendered 42 home runs, both of which rank fifth most in the majors.
Injuries to the pitching staff haven’t helped their numbers. The Mets’ disabled list consists entirely of pitchers and one catcher in Dillon Gee (lat strain), Germen Gonzalez (virus), Matt Harvey (Tommy John), Bobby Parnell (Tommy John) and catcher Travis d’Arnaud (concussion).
The injuries have required the Mets to use seven different starting pitchers, two of which made their major-league debuts this week. Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom were each promoted from Triple-A, and were each awarded a loss, despite having quality starts.
Their fortune reflects that of the Mets, who have not won a series this month and sit in fourth place in the NL-East. The Nationals currently hold second place, but the NL-East is separated by only four and a half games.
If the Nats’ second meeting with this NL-East rival is similar to their first, it could serve to put some distance between the teams and continue the Mets’ bad fortune.
In The Zone
Jayson Werth (RF) .342 AVG, .395 OBP, .468 SLG, 7 RBI, 2 HR (last 20 games)
Daniel Murphy (2B) .357 AVG, .457 OBP, .643 SLG, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 SB (last seven games)
Eric Young Jr. (LF) .333 AVG, .385 OBP, .583 SLG, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 SB (last seven games)
Chris Young (CF) .172 AVG, .226 OBP, .345 SLG, 1 BB, 9 SO (last seven games)
Juan Lagares (CF) .211 AVG, .304 OBP, .263 SLG, 2, BB, 6 SO (last seven games)
5/16, Tanner Roark (2-1, 3.65 ERA, .232 BAA, 36 SO, 10 BB) vs. Jon Niese (2-2, 2.17 ERA, .229 BAA, 36 SO, 10 BB)
5/17, Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.97 ERA, .233 BAA, 49 SO, 18 BB) vs. Bartolo Colon (2-5, 5.84 ERA, .316 BAA, 38 SO, 5 BB)
5/18, Jordan Zimmermann (2-1, 3.59 ERA, .297 BAA, 42 SO, 8 BB) vs. Zack Wheeler (1-3, 4.53 ERA, .279 BAA, 41 SO, 24 BB)