Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
With 26 games left in the regular season, the Washington Nationals (71-65) may be getting hot at the right time. They have won five straight games, including a sweep of the Atlanta Braves over the weekend. With the Braves losers of eight straight coming in, the Nats took care of business by putting up 38 runs over the four games. Plus, there was some drama involved on Friday night when Michael Taylor hit a pinch-hit walk-off three run homer in the bottom of the tenth despite batting a knee injury.
By sweeping the Braves, the Nationals are now within four games in the NL East and they have a chance to directly gain ground on the team ahead of them this week. The New York Mets (75-61) swept the Nats at Citi Field in their last meeting, but New York comes into this matchup with the Nats after losing two of three to the Marlins.
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Even though Terry Collins’ team had a bad weekend in Miami, this is an offense that has the bulk of its pieces in place as David Wright is back and playing third base. Since the All-Star Break, the Mets have scored 255 runs, which is the most in the National League and second in all of baseball, behind the Toronto Blue Jays. However, first baseman Lucas Duda, who had three home runs in the last series against the Nats, has been out since August 21 because of a back injury.
One of the main reasons for that success is Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets’ outfielder is hitting .301 in his last 33 games with 12 home runs and 29 RBI’s and he has four home runs in his five games. The Mets have four players in thelr lineup who have had 20 RBI’s since the break (Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Daniel Murphy, and Wilmer Flores).
On the mound, New York’s starting pitching continues to be their strength, but Matt Harvey wrote about in the Players’ Tribune how he is going to shut his regular season down after 180-185 innings. He is at 166.1 innings and he will get the start against the Nationals on Tuesday night. This season, New York’s 3.40 starters’ ERA is the third best in the National League.
As for the bullpen, former Nats’ setup man Tyler Clippard has shined in the eighth inning role in Flushing. He has given up three runs in 21.1 innings, but one of those runs was a game tying solo shot by Justin Bour in the eighth inning of yesterday’s game. Nevertheless, Clippard and Familia (36-for-41 in saves) continue to be a tough late inning duo to beat. It will be interesting how often Matt Williams counters with Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen after not using them at all in the last series against the Mets.
In anticipation of the biggest series in the season so far, let’s take a look at who has the edge in these three pitching matchups:
Next: Today's Matchup