Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nationals at Mets (4/30-5/3)

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Apr 27, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws a pitch against the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Fister (1-1, 3.28) vs. Dillon Gee (0-1, 4.26), 1:10 PM ET, MASN

When you look at Doug Fister’s first month of the 2015 season, one of the problems that has stood out is that he has leaving too many pitches up in the zone. Fister, who is normally one of the best ground ball pitchers in the game, has had two starts this year where he has induced single digit groundball outs.

In his last start against the Braves on Monday, Fister gave up five runs (four earned runs) on ten hits, struck out three and walked two. He has walked two or more batters in three consecutive starts.

While he has thrown 100+ pitches in his last two starts, Washington will want to see that groundball total go back to the other two starts this season, when he induced 14 groundball outs. If he can pound the strike zone and get ahead of hitters, that plays right into his strength of getting key groundballs in big situations.

Against the Mets, Fister has been outstanding. He is 4-0 with a 1.01 ERA against them, including a 0.89 ERA in three starts last year. He gave up two earned runs in 20.1 innings, struck out 13 batters, and walked one. That being said, the hitter with the most success against Fister is shortstop Wilmer Flores, who is 5-for-9 with a home run and two RBI’s.

For the Mets, Dillon Gee is the number five starter, but New York has a couple young starters down in triple-A that could be up later this year in Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz. New York was shopping Gee all offseason in a trade, but could not get a deal done.

However, Gee has been very good in his last two starts. Over his last 14.2 innings (7+ innings in each), he gave up a combined three earned runs. Take a look at his last start against the Marlins on Monday. He got that Miami offense to hit 18 groundball outs and got into the eighth inning with only 70 pitches.

Against the Nationals, Gee has had good success. He is 8-4 against Washington in 16 career starts with a 3.69 ERA. However, the Nats got to him last season. Gee was 1-1 in four starts last year with a 5.87 ERA, giving up 15 earned runs over 23 innings. Ian Desmond has three home runs against him and Bryce Harper (7-for-19) also has a pair of home runs against the right hander.

Advantage: I like the way Gee has been pitching as of late, but the Nationals get the checkmark in this one. Eventually, Fister will get back to getting his pitches down in the zone. Maybe, facing a team who he has had success against, will be good for Fister to get back on track. Nats get the split.

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