The New York Mets (44-59) conclude their six-game road trip with a pair of games against the struggling Washington Nationals (52-53). The Mets have won six out of 10 games against their division rivals in 2018, which includes sweeping the Nationals in Washington D.C. on April 5-8.
With the trade deadline passing at 4:00pm today, the focus will shift back to the product on the field and away from trade rumors and analyzing prospect returns. Leading up to the deadline, the Mets unloaded closer Jeurys Familia to the Oakland A’s and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera to the Philadelphia Phillies, bringing back three minor leaguers and $1 million in international slot money.
A win on Tuesday night would clinch a winning month for the Mets for the first time since they went 15-9 in April. This is especially encouraging following a 5-21 June, which ranked as one of the worst months in the club’s 57-year history. They are currently 12-11 in July, including wins in four of their last six contests.
The Mets are coming off a series split with the Pittsburgh Pirates where they won the first and last games and dropped the middle pair. After scoring 15 runs in the first 10 innings against Pittsburgh, the offense only managed to put up two runs in the final 26 innings, with one of those coming on an RBI double off the bat of Zack Wheeler which accounted for the lone run of Sunday’s victory. The Mets were a woeful 3-for-34 with runners in scoring position against the Pirates, and they have not had a position player drive in a run in 22 innings.
Offensively, Michael Conforto has been the team’s hottest bat since the All-Star break, despite jamming his thumb and sitting out Sunday’s game. He has collected 11 hits in 30 at-bats since July 20, including three home runs and two doubles. It remains to be seen whether he will start on Tuesday, but he was well enough to pinch-hit on Sunday (when he was intentionally walked). On the negative side, Amed Rosario is 0-for-his-last-14 and is 8-for-39 with a .244 on-base percentage since the All-Star break.
Even with how horribly this season has gone for the Mets, no team has been a bigger disappointment in the division than Washington. The Nationals were the odds-on favorite to win the National League East in many preseason projections, but sit five-and-a-half games back of the first-place Phillies. Since the All-Star Break, they are 4-5 and have lost their last two to the last-place Miami Marlins while only scoring one run combined in those games.
The frustration has been showing as of late, with starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg getting into a heated exchange in the dugout during the first game back from the All-Star break and star Bryce Harper openly praising Marlins catcher and potential trade target J.T. Realmuto as he beat Washington with a walk-off hit on Saturday night. The Nationals have gone so far as to alert the league that Harper, who is a free agent at the end of the season, is available at the deadline, along with their potential free agent relievers.
Tuesday, July 31: Steven Matz vs. Tanner Roark, 7:05 p.m. on SNY
Matz (2018): 107.0 IP, 97 K, 40 BB, 17 HR, 3.79 ERA, 4.76 FIP, 1.26 WHIP
Matz will toe the rubber on Tuesday night in the series opener. In his last start against the Pirates, Matz recovered after surrendering a pair of two-run home runs in the first three innings and retired the last 10 batters that he faced. Along the way, he tied a career high with nine strikeouts in the victory. Matz has looked better after a disappointing April, posting a 3.48 ERA over his last 85.1 innings. The focus for the rest of the season will be on staying healthy and keeping his walks down, which are two things that have hurt the lefty over the past two seasons.
Roark (2018): 122.2 IP, 109 K, 44 BB, 15 HR, 4.55 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.34 WHIP
Roark delivered his best start in what has otherwise been a very bad season last Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the outing, he pitched eight shutout innings while striking out 11. In his three previous starts, he allowed a combined 17 earned runs in 16 innings while striking out 14. He has faced the Mets three times this year, allowing 11 earned runs in 17 innings while striking out 20 in those starts.
Wednesday, August 1: Noah Syndergaard vs. Tommy Milone, 12:05 p.m. on SNY
Syndergaard (2018): 74.2 IP, 83 K, 15 BB, 5 HR, 2.89 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 1.25 WHIP
Syndergaard is scheduled to come off the disabled list to make his first start since contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease. The Mets will likely closely monitor him during the start to check for any ill effects of the disease, but all signs point to him being good to go. He has pitched twice since returning from an unrelated six-week disabled list stint and earned victories against the Nationals and the New York Yankees. In the process, he went 10 innings and allowed 15 hits and two earned runs while striking out seven.
Milone (2018): 5.0 IP, 6 K, 0 BB, 0 HR, 5.40 ERA, 0.77 FIP, 1.66 WHIP
You may remember Milone from his brief cup of coffee with the Mets last season, when he made five starts and struggled to the tune of an 8.56 ERA and 7.15 FIP in 27.1 innings. He signed a minor-league contract with the Nationals — the team that drafted him in the 10th round of the 2008 MLB Draft — over the winter and came up to take an injured Strasburg’s spot in the rotation. In his season debut, he gave up three runs in the first but settled down and didn’t allow a run in his last four innings.
Prediction: The Mets sink the Nationals further into oblivion with a series sweep
How will the Mets fare in their two-game series with the Nationals?
This poll is closed
The Mets swat the Nats in a two-game sweep!
Split the series, split the road trip
Nats regain their focus and sweep the Mets