Sep 8, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcherDoug Fister
(58) pitches during the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
As the days get shorter and October gets nearer, the Nationals are getting closer and closer to winning the NL East for the second time in the last three years. A Braves loss last night brought the Magic Number to clinch the division down to eight games, and another Braves loss earlier today brought that number down to seven.
There’s still plenty of baseball to be played, but right now, it certainly looks like the final run for the NL East will not be the epic, down to the wire battle we all expected earlier in the season. The Braves’ offensive woes continue and the Nationals are winning more than enough games to keep them at bay.
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The Nationals start a key series in Atlanta Tuesday night, where they’ll have a chance to bury the Braves for good. And if the Nationals beat the Mets tonight in the third game of the four-game series, they’ll have a chance to lockup the division at Turner Field against the reigning NL East Champions next week.
But for that to happen, the Nationals first have to take care of business tonight in New York, where Doug Fister looks to get another Citi Field win streak started for the Nationals.
Fister (13-6, 2.53 ERA) has been Washington’s most reliable starter all season and many think he should be in the conversation to start Game 1 of the NLDS. The right-hander certainly pitched like an ace his last time out, allowing just two hits while striking out three over seven scoreless innings against the Braves.
Fister has been dominant of late as the lanky right-hander boasts a 2.09 ERA in his last 10 starts. Fister’s career numbers against the Mets bode will for the Nationals as he’s 3-0 with a 0.44 ERA in 20 2/3 innings against New York.
The Mets will counter with right-hander Zack Wheeler (10-9, 3.38 ERA). Wheeler has pitched well of late for the Mets, going 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in his last 10 starts. Over that span, the Mets’ right-hander has not given up more than three earned runs in any start and has surrendered two runs or fewer nine times.
Prior to Saturday night’s game, the Nationals are 83-63 on the season and lead the Braves by nine games in the NL East. While they’re still 6 1/2 games out of the second Wild Card spot, the third-place Mets have been on a surge of late and are only three games back of the Braves.
Here are the lineups for tonight’s game:
Washington Nationals @ New York Mets, 7:10 P.M. ET
- CF: Denard Span
- 3B: Anthony Rendon
- RF: Jayson Werth
- 1B: Adam LaRoche
- SS: Ian Desmond
- LF: Bryce Harper
- 2B: Asdrubal Cabrera
- C: Jose Lobaton
- SP: Doug Fister