Washington Nationals Series Preview: Nats at Mets (7/31-8/2)

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Jul 28, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda (21) rounds third after hitting a two-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in two weeks, the Washington Nationals (54-46) will play a three game series against their NL East rivals, the New York Mets (52-50). The Nats took two out of three games from the Mets last week at Nats Park, but a lot has changed for both of these teams.

For one, the Nationals’ lineup does have Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Jayson Werth back in it, something that the Mets have not seen this season in either of the first ten games (Washington is 6-4 in those games). Plus, Washington acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies this week and he will come into Citi Field after getting his first save with the Nats yesterday.

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On the Mets side, their bullpen features a familiar face. Former Nationals’ setup man Tyler Clippard is now the eighth inning guy in Flushing after the Mets acquired him from the Oakland A’s for pitching prospect Casey Meisner. The Clippard acquisition ends up being huge for the Mets, who have had issues with their bullpen as of late. Jenrry Mejia got suspended 162 games on Monday for his second PED violation and closer Jeurys Familia has yet to record a save since the All-Star Break (0-for-3).

As far as the offense goes, New York did make some small upgrades by trading for infielders Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson from the Braves last Friday and they did call up outfield prospect Michael Conforto to take over for Michael Cuddyer, who is currently on the disabled list. However, New York was not able to acquire that big bat for the offense.

On Wednesday night, there were reports that the Mets had completed a trade that would have sent center fielder Carlos Gomez back to New York in exchange for shortstop Wilmer Flores and starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (out due to Tommy John Surgery), but that deal was not completed.

Even though the Gomez deal did not get done, the Mets were able to trade for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes right before the 4 PM ET trade deadline this afternoon. The deal was first reported by Bruce Levine of 670 The Score. Cespedes is hitting .293 this season with 18 home runs and 61 RBI’s. However, he will not be in the lineup tonight.

One of the bright spots as of late for Terry’ Collins club has been first baseman Lucas Duda (.240, 18 HR, 45 RBI’s). Duda is 8-for-23 over the last seven days with six home runs and seven RBI’s. He has eight home runs this month, despite having a .188 average at the plate.

It is the exact same three pitching matchups that there were last week as Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard will take the ball for the Mets. This time around, the Nationals head into Citi Field with a three game lead in the division. If they are able to take two of three, they wound end their ten game road trip with a 5-5 record.

Before the series starts tonight, here is a pitching matchup breakdown of the three games as well as answers to some questions I asked Daniel Abriano, the editor at Rising Apple, to get the Mets perspective on this series:

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