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

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Jul 25, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez (8-4, 3.83) vs. Matt Harvey (9-7, 3.16) – 7:10 PM ET, broadcast on MASN and SNY

In a rotation that features Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann, you can make the case that Gio Gonzalez has been the Nats’ best pitcher in the month of July. In four starts this month, the 29-year-old left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA and has only walked six batters over the course of 24 innings.

In his last start against the Pirates on July 25, Gonzalez went five innings, gave up three runs (one earned run) on five hits, struck out five, and did not walk a batter on only 74 pitches. Gonzalez did run into some trouble in the sixth inning, which was the reason for the early exit.

That being said, Gonzalez’s command has been sharp lately. He has induced ten or more groundball outs in five of his last seven starts, and he has given up two earned runs or fewer in his last five outings.

Back on July 20, Gonzalez got the win against the Mets when he gave up two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out four batters, and walking three. He is 2-0 against the Mets with a 1.38 ERA and has a career record of 9-4 against New York with a 2.88 ERA (6-1, 1.66 at Citi Field). Juan Lagares is 10-for-22 against Gonzalez with three doubles, a triple, a home run, and four RBI’s.

While the Mets scored 15 runs in Matt Harvey’s last start, the 26-year-old right-hander was able to put together a quality outing. Against the Dodgers, Harvey went seven innings, gave up two runs (two solo home runs) on six hits, struck out four, and walked one.

It’s been an up and down season for Harvey. The main issue since coming back from Tommy John surgery has been his control. In four starts this month, Harvey has 14 walks over the course of 26 innings. Against the Nats on July 20, Harvey struggled in the first three innings, but was able to finish seven innings due to a low pitch count. He gave up five runs (four earned runs) on five hits, struck out three, and walked four in the loss.

Despite that rough outing, Harvey has a good track record against the Nats. This season, he is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in three starts against Washington. Over the course of his career, he is 3-2 with a 1.34 ERA in seven starts. Ryan Zimmerman is 4-for-14 against him with a home run, but Bryce Harper is 0-for-14 with seven strikeouts.

Advantage: While Gonzalez has been great for the Nats this month, this is a game that the Mets need to have. They had the bad situation involving the Gomez trade and then they blew a six run lead yesterday in a loss to San Diego. This is the kind of game where Harvey usually shines in and the Nationals have not usually had a good track record against him. I do think this game is low scoring, but because of the inconsistencies in Harvey’s game as of late, particularly the command of his slider, I am going to take Gio Gonzalez in this one in a 3-2 kind of game.

Next: Tomorrow's Matchup