Washington Nationals: 5 to watch in 4-game visit to Citi Field

Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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Washington Nationals
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Nationals are in Citi Field this weekend to take on a Mets team playing well as of late. Here are our five to watch in the series

It was a rough series for the Washington Nationals (39-27) as they wrapped up their seven game homestand with a series loss to the Atlanta Braves. Over the three games, they gave up a total of 28 runs, including 13 in yesterday’s loss.

Monday’s game might’ve been the low point of the weekend as the Nats bullpen blew a 9-5 lead. With Koda Glover on the disabled list, the closer problem still remains unsolved and most of the relievers are having a hard time throwing strikes. With that being said, the team still has a 8.5 game lead over their next opponent in the division.

Coming into tonight’s matchup at Citi Field, the New York Mets (30-34) have won four of their last six and just took two out of three against the Chicago Cubs. They’ve gotten some of their injured players as Yoenis Cespedes is back in the outfield and both Steven Matz and Seth Lugo are back in the starting rotation.

Matz and Lugo should provide a big help to a rotation that has struggled for most of the season. Their starters have a combined ERA of 4.87, which is the 11th highest in the National League. Plus, they are tied for the second most walks in the NL with the Rockies (140).

While the rotation has had its share of problems, the relievers have given up 35 home runs, which is tied for the most in the league. Addison Reed has been better as the closer lately as he has struck out two batters in four of his last seven outings. Left-hander Jerry Blevins has also been key against the Nats this year as teams are hitting .091 against him.

On offense, right fielder Jay Bruce has been on a power surge this month. Over his last 11 games, he’s hitting .319 with five home runs and ten RBI’s. Bruce is part of an offense that leads the National League in home runs this month and is three behind the New York Yankees for the Major League lead.

Before we look at the players to watch, here are the four scheduled pitching matchups:

Today: Gio Gonzalez (5-1, 2.91 ERA) vs. Robert Gsellman (5-3, 4.95) – 7:10 p.m ET, broadcast on MASN/MLB Network

Tomorrow: Max Scherzer (7-4, 2.36) vs. Steven Matz (1-0, 1.29) – 7:10 p.m – MASN/ESPN

Saturday: Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 3.27) vs. Seth Lugo (1-0, 1.29) – 4.10 p.m – MASN/WUSA9

Sunday: Joe Ross (3-2, 6.39) vs. Jacob deGrom (5-3, 4.33) – 1:10 p.m – MASN/WUSA9

So without further ado, let’s look at the players to watch, starting with a first baseman that is under National League MVP consideration.