The New York Mets kick off their first home stand of 2019 with a three-game set against the Washington Nationals. Following the series with their division rivals, the Mets will begin interleague play with two games against the Minnesota Twins.
Following a series win against the Nationals, the Mets flew south to Florida and swept the Miami Marlins to improve their record to 5-1. The first game, which the Mets won 7-3, featured Pete Alonso’s first career home run in the ninth inning, which gave the team a four-run cushion. In the middle game, the Mets batted around in the first and jumped out to a five-run lead before sweating out a nerve-wracking 6-5 victory.
Jacob deGrom completely dominated the final game, as he scattered three hits through seven shutout innings and even showcased a filthy 95 mile per hour slider. Once again, the reigning Cy Young Award winner did things that we have not seen a pitcher do in the modern era. He became the first Mets pitcher to record 14 strikeouts since John Maine on September 29, 2007, and became the first Met to strike out at least ten batters in his first two games of the season. He extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 — dating back to last season — and recorded his 31st consecutive start in which he allowed three runs or less and his 26th consecutive quality start. As if that wasn’t enough, deGrom hit a solo home run in the third inning to jump into a tie for the team lead. Like the previous night, the bullpen almost gave the game away, and Mickey Callaway had to go to closer Edwin Diaz to record the final out and earn his third save.
Despite completing the sweep, it wasn’t all positive for the Mets. The bullpen specifically was a sore spot in the final two games in the series, as both games almost slipped away from them. In the middle game, Seth Lugo surrendered three runs in 1.1 innings after Callaway inexplicably left him in for the eighth inning after he struggled in the seventh. On Wednesday, Luis Avilan and Robert Gsellman could not close out the game with a six-run lead, forcing the Mets’ skipper to call on his closer in a spot where Diaz should’ve gotten the night off.
In addition to the bullpen, Brandon Nimmo continued to look lost at the place in the early part of this season. He had just one hit in nine at-bats while striking out six more times, which included a Golden Sombrero in the series finale. Negatives aside, the team continued to hit at an encouraging pace, as they scored 19 runs on 29 hits during the sweep. Wilson Ramos picked up five hits in ten at-bats and is not 9-for-19 in the early part of this season. Dominic Smith also contributed four hits in seven at-bats, including two pinch hits, to continue his solid start. Smith has been relatively effective in his brief career as a pinch hitter, as he’s 14-for-33 with two home runs while coming off the bench.
The Nationals split a pair of games with the Philadelphia Phillies following the conclusion of their series with the Mets. The two-game set featured the return of former franchise-cornerstone-turned-heel Bryce Harper, and Nationals fans greeted him rudely with a chorus of deafening boos every time his name was mentioned (including during his tribute video). Harper responded by contributing three hits, including a home run and a run-scoring single, in his first game back as the Phillies defeated Max Scherzer. In the final game, the Nationals won on a walk-off walk as they handed Philadelphia their first loss of 2019 and picked up their second walk-off win of 2019.
Thursday, April 4: Stephen Strasburg vs. Noah Syndergaard, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Strasburg (2019): 6.0 IP, 8 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 6.00 ERA, 1.24 FIP, 1.50 WHIP
The Mets had Strasburg on the ropes last Saturday and scored three in the first and another in the second against him. However, he settled in after that and kept them off the board for the last four innings, which allowed the Nationals to tie the game up before the Mets eventually took the lead for good in the eighth. It was an uneven start for Strasburg, who allowed ten baserunners (eight hits, two walks) and four runs but also struck out eight.
Syndergaard (2019): 6.0 IP, 7 K, 0 BB, 1 HR, 6.00 ERA, 3.24 FIP, 1.17 WHIP
Syndergaard’s Opening Day line this year (6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 hits, 7 strikeouts, 1 home run) was eerily similar to his line against the St. Louis Cardinals last year at Citi Field (6.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 hits, 10 strikeouts, 2 home runs). Much like in that game, Syndergaard did not factor into the decision but his team did come away with a victory thanks to the offense. He wasn’t at his best on Saturday, but did have some positives to take away, including not walking any batters over his six innings of work. Thor will get another crack at the Nationals against the man he faced last Saturday.
Saturday, April 6: Patrick Corbin vs. Steven Matz, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Corbin (2019): 6.0 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 3.00 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 1.50 WHIP
Corbin arrived in Washington D.C. with lofty expectations after signing a six-year deal worth $140 million in the offseason. In his first start, he gave the Nationals a glimpse of what he’s capable of, as he held the Mets to two runs on seven hits over six innings. He only struck out four and he did walk two batters, but overall it was a solid first start for the left-hander. He owns a 4.86 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets.
Matz (2019): 5.1 IP, 3 K, 0 BB, 1 HR, 1.69 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.13 WHIP
Matz had an encouraging first start despite not making it out of the sixth inning. Matz was pulled with one out in the sixth after throwing only 74 pitches, and could have probably gone deeper had his club not committed a couple of costly errors that resulted in two unearned runs crossing the plate. Matz’s composure in these situations has often been an issue and will be something worth watching if the defense lets him down. In the start, he didn’t walk anybody although he only struck out three Nationals batters.
Sunday, April 7: Max Scherzer vs. Zack Wheeler, 1:10 p.m. on SNY
Scherzer (2019): 12.2 IP, 21 K, 4 BB, 2 HR, 2.13 ERA, 2.59 FIP, 1.03 WHIP
The Nationals are taking full advantage of a plethora of days off early in the season, as they are electing to use Scherzer on regular rest rather than pitch with a full five-man rotation. As a result, Scherzer will make his third start of the year in what will be the team’s eighth game. Through no fault of his own Scherzer has lost his first two starts, as his team’s combined to score just two runs in support of his efforts. He last pitched on Tuesday in what was billed as Harper’s return to Nationals Park, and he only lasted five innings before Dave Martinez elected to lift him for a pinch hitter in an attempt to get the team’s offense going. Through his first two starts, he’s already amassed 21 strikeouts, which puts him in second behind deGrom’s 24 strikeouts.
Wheeler (2019): 5.0 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, 7.20 ERA, 3.31 FIP, 1.40 WHIP
Wheeler’s first start of 2019 offered a little bit of his maddening first half struggles and his exhilarating second half rebirth. He was able to elicit a lot of swings and misses and only walked one batter while striking out seven. On the down side, he worked far too many deep counts and was unable to escape jams when he got into them. He threw 95 pitches in just the five innings and left with his team trailing 4-1 in a game that the Mets would eventually lose on a walk-off home run. He will return to make his first start at Citi Field, where he pitched to a 3.14 ERA in 15 starts last season.
Prediction: The Mets keep the good vibes going as they pick up two wins in three tries against the Nationals.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Nationals?
This poll is closed
The Mets make it back-to-back sweeps!
The sequel is never as good, but the Mets make it two out of three again
The Nationals enact some revenge, but the Mets steal one game
The Mets are swept away in their first series at Citi Field
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