Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats vs. Mets (7/20-7/22)

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Jul 11, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Harvey (8-6, 3.07) vs. Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.99) – 7:05 PM ET, broadcast on MASN and ESPN

It’s been an up and down year for Matt Harvey, better known as “the Dark Knight” to some Mets fans. At times, he has looked like the pitcher who took the league by storm in 2013. Other times, he struggles with command as he is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2014 season.

While the 26-year-old right-hander has had struggles with command, he has given up a combined total of only six runs in his last six starts. Despite not giving up many runs, he has walked 12 batters in his last four starts and nine batters in his last two starts.

When you watch a Harvey start, one thing to keep on is his slider, which is one of his dominant pitches outside of his fastball. Plus, he has a great history against the Nationals. In six starts against them, he is 3-1 with a 0.68 ERA and he has not given up a run in two starts against them this season. Ian Desmond is 4-for-14 against Harvey with a home run.

Gio Gonzalez may not get as much attention as Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann, but he has put up three good starts in a row. In his last outing against the Orioles on July 10, Gonzalez went six innings, gave up one run on six hits, struck out five, and walked three in a no-decision. Gonzalez has given up one earned run in his last 20 innings.

Still, Gonzalez still has the tendency to have command issues as he has walked 36 batters this season. But, one thing that’s for certain is that Gonzalez can pitch on extended rest after having an outing postponed after an inning in Philadelphia and going out on July 3 after missing nearly two weeks and throwing seven innings of one run ball in a win over the Giants.

Gonzalez shut out the Mets back on May 2 at Citi Field. He went seven innings, gave up six hits, struck out nine (a season high) and walked two on 111 pitches (season high) in a 1-0 win. He is 8-4 against the Mets lifetime with a 2.87 ERA in 14 starts. One Met to watch is center fielder Juan Lagares (.252, 3 HR, 25 RBI’s). Lagares is 8-for-19 with a home run and four RBI’s against Gonzalez.

Advantage: The key in this game is going to be which offense can find a way to get on the board first. One of the problems for Harvey is the Mets is when the team scores 0-2 runs, he has not won a game this season. I expect this game to be low scoring, but Harvey has control of the Nats and especially Bryce Harper (0-for-12, six strikeouts). Mets squeak out a close one, 3-2.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup