Washington Nationals: Wild Card Race Heats Up at Citi Field

rshinberg
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 21: Brian Dozier #9 of the Washington Nationals turns a double play against Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 21: Brian Dozier #9 of the Washington Nationals turns a double play against Pete Alonso #20 of the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 21, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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The Washington Nationals head to Citi Field to wrap up their road trip.  This is the first Nats/Mets meeting since May 23.

The Washington Nationals were sick of playing the Mets earlier in the season (and probably vice versa).

The two teams played 13 times from March 28 to May 23 with the Nationals losing eight of the 13 meetings.

Now, after a two and a half month break, the two National League Wild Card contenders are set to lock horns at Citi Field with a lot on the line for both teams.

For the Nationals, a series win could further increase their cushion in the Wild Card race.  As of Friday, the Nats are 1.5 games clear of the Philadelphia Phillies and 2.0 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers.  They own the top spot, and that top spot is critical to avoid a potential Game 163 and to secure home-field advantage in the Wild Card game.

The Mets, winners of six straight, could pull into the Wild Card itself with a series win.  They are 0.5 games behind the Brewers for the second spot.  With those two teams going in opposite directions, it will put even more pressure on the other contending teams.

Here are the projected starters for the three-game series:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9: Stephen Strasburg vs. Marcus Stroman

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10: Patrick Corbin vs. Noah Syndergaard

SUNDAY, AUGUST 11: Anibal Sanchez vs. Jacob deGrom

Sunday’s matchup is undoubtedly the most lopsided as the Mets’ best pitcher, and one of the top three pitchers in baseball faces the Nats’ ideal number four starter.

The Nats will almost certainly be favored to win Friday’s game, and without home-field advantage, they might be slight underdogs on Saturday.  It goes without saying the Nats’ best chance to win the series is to win the first two games as scoring multiple runs against deGrom is nearly impossible.

Today, Stroman will get his first crack at an N.L. East opponent this season.  The Mets acquired Stroman a few days before the trade deadline, and he didn’t fare well in his debut with the team.  Against the Pirates on August 3, Stroman recorded only 13 outs while allowing seven hits and three earned runs.

Stroman is a ground ball specialist, inducing one at a nearly 60%  clip over his career.  He relies heavily on this approach as his career strikeout rate of 19.3% is incredibly weak.  If luck is on his side, his ground ball heavy approach can lead to extremely quick and efficient outings.  When it’s not working, teams can single and double him to an early exit.

Next. Nats Sweep Giants. dark

He will take the hill tonight at 7:10 ET, kicking off an incredibly important series in the Wild Card race.

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