The New York Mets (20-25) limp back to Citi Field to begin a seven-game homestand with a pivotal four-game set against the Washington Nationals (19-27). The Mets dropped two out of three to the Nationals last week and have lost five of nine to their division counterparts this season. One-and-a-half games separate the two teams for third place in the National League East heading into this series.
As of this piece being published, Mickey Callaway remains the manager after some beat writers seemed to hint that his job may be in jeopardy. The rumors follow a thoroughly embarrassing series that saw the Mets get swept by the 13-31 Miami Marlins. Friday night’s game featured Jacob deGrom at his worst, as he allowed seven runs while the team could score only score six. Pete Alonso hit two more home runs to improve his team-leading mark to 14, but it was not enough to overcome deGrom’s awful outing.
Those six runs felt like an offensive explosion compared to what the team did over the next two nights. On Saturday, Jeff McNeil led off the game with a double down the left field line. It represented the only hit the club would pick up on the afternoon and, aside from two walks, the club went down with 27 non-consecutive outs to pick up their fourth straight loss and second to the Marlins over the weekend. The game features Steven Matz’s return from the Injured List and, all things considered, he didn’t do too poorly and was hardly the reason the club lost 2-0.
Sunday’s series finale was rock bottom for New York, as they managed two measly hits—somehow an improvement over the previous game—as they fell 3-0 to earn an inexcusable defeat to baseball’s worst team. Both hits came off the bat of J.D. Davis, with the rest of the club going quietly aside from an Alonso walk to lead off the eight. Miami’s Sandy Alcantara didn’t have to work too hard, as he threw just 89 pitches in a game that clocked in one minute short of two hours. Once again, Noah Syndergaard hardly deserves any of the blame for this one, as he allowed two runs in seven innings of work.
The Mets have failed to score in their last 19 innings, dating back to the eighth inning of Friday night’s game in a futile effort to erase an early deficit. At times over the weekend, it looked as if the ax was silently hovering over Callaway’s head, but it never fell (at least, not yet). While Callaway has made a number of terrible, head-scratching, downright unforgivable mistakes since taking over last season, it’s hard to blame him for a lack of talent, or players not performing to the best of their capabilities. In any event, it appears retaining Callaway as manager only serves to delay the inevitable, provided the team doesn’t turn things around fairly quickly. For now, they sit six-and-a-half games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies, while they now have fallen to four games behind the second-plate Atlanta Braves.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are coming off a series loss to the Chicago Cubs. The club dropped the series opener 14-6, as their bullpen gave up 11 runs over the final three innings to turn the game into a laugher. Stephen Strasburg stopped the bleeding on Saturday with an impressive outing to help his team earn a 5-2 victory to even up the series. The two teams squared off on Sunday Night Baseball yesterday, with Chicago jumping out to a four-run lead after four innings and a five-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. From there, Washington rallied to close the gap to 6-5, but they were unable to complete the comeback. The loss dropped the Nationals to eight games below .500.
A big reason for Washington’s awful season so far has been their bullpen, which has easily been the worst in the league up until this point. They currently own a league-worst 6.60 ERA, with their 5.03 FIP finishing ahead of just the Marlins’ pen. Their starting pitching has fared much better, but that mostly has to do with the front-end of Max Scherzer, Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. The team’s big three have combined for a 3.33 ERA (70 earned runs in 189 innings). Meanwhile, Jeremy Hellickson and Anibal Sanchez have posted a 5.55 ERA (49 earned runs in 79.1 innings).
Monday, May 20: Patrick Corbin vs. TBD, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Corbin (2019): 58.2 IP, 69 K, 18 BB, 6 HR, 2.91 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 1.04 WHIP
The Mets have simply been unable to solve Corbin in his first year with Washington. In three starts against the Mets in 2019, Corbin has allowed six earned runs on 17 hits in 20 innings. In his last outing, he completed eight innings for the first time in 2019 and held New York’s struggling lineup to four hits and one earned runs while matching his season-high with 11 strikeouts. After putting up his worst start of the year to close out the month of April, the 29-year-old owns an impressive 1.71 ERA and 2.01 FIP in 21 innings this month, with opposing batters posting a .490 OPS against him.
The Mets have yet to announce a starter for this evening’s game. It will likely come down to either Wilmer Font or Drew Gagnon. Gagnon has pitched 5.2 consecutive scoreless innings out of the pen, which could give him the edge over Font.
Tuesday, May 21: Erick Fedde vs. Zack Wheeler, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Erick Fedde (2019): 10.2 IP, 7 K, 4 BB, 1 HR, 3.38 ERA, 4.14 FIP, 1.03 WHIP
Fedde will step in for Sanchez, who exited his last start against the Mets with a hamstring injury. Fedde has not made a start in 2019 but has made five relief appearances, four of which were scoreless. His only blemish came in his last appearance against the Mets on May 16, when he entered in relief of the injured Sanchez. Fedde was tagged for four earned runs in 2.2 innings, including allowing a three-run home run to Michael Conforto to erase Washington’s early lead. Prior to that, he tossed two scoreless and hitless innings against the Mets in relief on May 14.
Wheeler (2019): 55.2 IP, 64 K, 21 BB, 4 HR, 4.85 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.44 WHIP
Wheeler’s three worst starts of 2019 have all come against the Nationals. In his last outing, he was tagged for four first inning runs to put his team in an early hole that they were eventually able to erase. With the game knotted up, Wheeler gave up a two-run home run to Gerardo Parra, and the offense was not able to overcome the deficit. Wheeler allowed a season-high eleven hits over six innings while he struck out six and walked two. In six starts against teams other than the Nationals, Wheeler is pitching to a 2.92 ERA and a 2.13 FIP with opponents putting up a .625 OPS. Against the Nationals, Wheeler owns a 9.77 ERA in three starts in 2019.
Wednesday, May 22: Max Scherzer vs. Jacob deGrom, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Scherzer (2019): 65.1 IP, 87 K, 14 BB, 6 HR, 3.72 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 1.19 WHIP
One thing the Nationals have been able to reliably count on in past seasons is winning games that their ace has started. That trend has not carried over into 2019, although much of that isn’t Scherzer’s fault. The imposing right-hander still leads the league in strikeouts, innings pitched, FIP, and fWAR, although his ERA is slightly higher than people are used to seeing. Still, seven of his 10 appearances this year have been quality starts, yet Washington has won just two of those outings. In his last start, he allowed three earned runs on six hits while striking out eight in a loss to the Cubs. Earlier this season, he was out-dueled by deGrom on Opening Day but defeated Wheeler in a Sunday start at Citi Field, although he was roughed up for four earned runs in 6.1 innings in that one.
deGrom (2019): 52.0 IP, 67 K, 14 BB, 7 HR, 3.98 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 1.17 WHIP
Things could not have gone much worse for deGrom in his last start against the Marlins as he kicked off what would become a disastrous sweep. After two quick and efficient innings, things fell apart for deGrom beginning in the third inning, as Miami’s weak offense poured it on against the Mets’ ace. He forced many Miami batters into two-strike counts but was unable to put them away and allowed a number of hard hits to Miami’s soft lineup. In the end, he allowed a season-high nine hits and seven runs (six earned). He wasn’t helped out by the defense behind him, but he also made an uncharacteristic error on a routine play. deGrom missed Washington during the team’s last two series, but he shut them out over six strong innings on Open Day in Nationals Park.
Thursday, May 23: Steven Matz vs. Stephen Strasburg, 12:10 p.m. on SNY
Strasburg (2019): 65.0 IP, 82 K, 16 BB, 7 HR, 3.32 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 0.99 WHIP
After an injury-ravaged 2018 season, Strasburg has given the Nationals everything they’ve wanted and has been every bit as good as Scherzer and Corbin. He got off to a bit of a rocky start, giving up at least four earned runs in three of his first four starts in 2019. Since then, he’s pitched to a 2.13 ERA and a 1.88 FIP, with a 34.2% strikeout rate and a 5.7% walk rate in his last 42.1 innings. In that span, opposing batters managing a meager .472 OPS against him. In his last outing, he held the Cubs to two runs (one earned) on four hits over eight strong innings.
Matz (2019): 38.2 IP, 38 K, 11 BB, 9 HR, 3.96 ERA, 5.10 FIP, 1.27 WHIP
Matz’s return back from the Injured List was a mixed bag. He was bit by the long ball yet again, as he allowed a lead-off home run to Jon Berti. He settled down from there but allowed one more run in the third, which didn’t matter anyway since his team failed to score a run. He appeared comfortable on the mound and was able to make it through his start without pain, which is the most important take away. He also struck out six and walked two, and his pitch count rose above the 75 mark that Callaway set fairly early on, which resulted in his early exit. Matz took on the Nationals only once this year and shut them out over five innings on April 6.
Prediction: The Mets steal a game but continue to sink as they drop three of four.
How will the Mets fare in their four game series against the Nationals?
This poll is closed
The Mets turn things around in a big way as they sweep the Nationals.
The Mets take three out of four to get back on track.
The Mets earn a split—and who can complain about that after the last series?
The Mets steal one but drop another series to a division opponent.
The Mets are swept again as the losing streak reached nine.