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Mets conclude road trip with three games against Nationals

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The Mets are four games out of a Wild Card spot as they begin another critical series.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets (69-67), looking to further climb out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves lately, conclude their six-game road trip with a three-game set against the Washington Nationals (77-58). The Mets have won 10 of 16 against the Nationals in 2019, securing their second straight season series win against their division rivals. Prior to that, New York had dropped the season series in six of the previous seven years dating back to 2011.

For the final time in 2019, the Mets squared off with the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park. Friday night’s series opener seemed to be following the same script as the past few games, with the offense not showing any pulse. Aaron Nola held them in check through six but the Mets finally pushed a run across on him in the seventh to tie the game up at one and, more importantly, force Gabe Kapler to go to his terrible bullpen. Over the final two innings, New York dropped five runs in the eighth and five more in the ninth to blow the game wide open. Todd Frazier hit a pair of three-run home runs, and Michael Conforto tied a career high with his 28th dinger. Chris Mazza was tagged for four in the ninth, but the added cushion of their late-inning offensive explosion helped them secure a much-needed 11-5 win.

The Mets faced an old friend on Saturday afternoon as they were opposed by Jason Vargas. For the first time in forever, the team and its fans were happy to see Vargas on the mound, as they fared pretty well against their former pitcher. The team put up five runs in his four innings as they put runners on in the first, second, third, and fifth. Wilson Ramos picked up four hits to extend his hitting streak to 24 games, while Conforto and Frazier also had multi-hit afternoons. Steven Matz temporarily put his Citizens Bank Park demons behind him as he pitched into the six while allowing three runs (two earned). The bullpen contributed four shutout innings, with Seth Lugo pitching the final two to record the save in the 6-3 win.

With the Chicago Cubs losing earlier in the day on Sunday, the Mets had a golden opportunity to trim their deficit in the Wild Card standings to three games. Instead, they responded with another lackadaisical Sunday effort to drop the series finale 5-2. Aside from a Pete Alonso first inning homer, the offense couldn’t touch the mediocre Zach Eflin. Marcus Stroman pitched his first quality outing in the orange and blue, but left with his club trailing by a run. Mets tied things up in the eighth, though Mickey Callaway made a terrible decision by calling for a bunt with two runners on and nobody out. He compounded the move by calling on Daniel Zamora to pitch to Bryce Harper, a move which led to a single and Jeurys Familia coming into the game. Familia ended up surrendering a three-run double to Scott Kingery, and that was all she wrote.

While taking two of three from the Phillies was, in theory, a good result, the team really needed a sweep, especially after winning the game started by Nola on Friday. At this point in the season, and especially after back-to-back home sweeps, the team cannot afford any mistakes from their manager or their players if they want to catch up to the Cubs. Chicago kicks off a two-game home set against the Seattle Mariners today before traveling to Milwaukee for a must-watch four-game weekend set.

Ramos extended his hitting streak to 25 on Sunday evening. If he can extend it to 26, he will match David Wright for the second-longest streak in club history. Five more hits will tie Moises Alou for the longest hitting-streak in Mets’ history. During the streak, which began on August 3, Ramos is slashing .438/.460/.594 with three home runs and a 182 wRC+ in 96 at-bats. He will likely get the Monday afternoon game off, and Tomas Nido is the odds-on favorite to fill in after returning from the IL on Sunday.

In the Sunday defeat, Alonso was able to grab a share of the home run lead by hitting his 43rd long ball of the season to extend his new franchise record. Alonso is tied with Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout, with the former hitting a game-tying ninth inning home run on Sunday for his 43rd of the year. Christian Yelich, who is looking for his second consecutive National League MVP award, sits at 42 home runs in 2019.

The Nationals enter Labor Day as winners of 16 of their last 19 games since dropping the first two games to the Mets back at Citi Field on August 9 and 10. They dismantled the Miami Marlins over the weekend in a three-game sweep after splitting a pair with the Baltimore Orioles. Prior to that, they easily handled the Cubs in a three-game sweep at Wrigley Field. In those 19 games, the Nationals have scored an MLB-best 152 runs, which is 14 more than any other squad, while leading all teams with a .946 OPS and 148 wRC+.

Anthony Rendon has been unconscious at the plate during that three-week stretch, hitting .449/.506/.808 with seven home runs, a .359 ISO, a 229 wRC+, and a team-leading 1.9 fWAR while playing every game. Juan Soto has been every bit as good as his teammate, posting a .342/.429/.767 slash line with seven home runs, a team-high 26 runs scored, a .425 ISO, a 196 wRC+, and a 1.2 fWAR. Adam Eaton is having his best stretch of 2019, slashing .340/.478/.736 with five home runs, a .396 ISO, a 203 wRC+, and a 1.1 fWAR in 16 games since August 11. Since joining Washington, former Met Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .321/.400/.536 with two home runs, a 136 wRC+ and a 0.4 fWAR in 17 games.

Monday, September 2: Noah Syndergaard vs. Joe Ross, 1:05 p.m. on SNY

Syndergaard (2019): 163.0 IP, 161 K, 43 BB, 18 HR, 4.14 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.22 WHIP

There are no words that can accurately convey just how bad Syndergaard’s was in his last start. He was tattooed for a career-worst ten runs (nine earned) in just three innings of work. He surrendered three homes in his brief time on the mound and never quite looked comfortable in the wet conditions. After eight consecutive quality starts following the All Star Break, which helped him lower his ERA from 4.68 to 3.71, he saw it climb back up to 4.14 in the blink of an eye. It’s fair to assume, given his track record, that this was just a blip on the radar and there’s nothing bigger to worry about, but his club can ill afford a repeat performance on Monday or in any other start for the remainder of the season, given their nearly impossible postseason odds.

Ross (2019): 50.1 IP, 41 K, 26 BB, 5 HR, 5.36 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 1.65 WHIP

After spending the first three months of the season in Washington’s bullpen, Ross has spent most of the second half as a starter for the Nationals. The Labor Day outing will be his first start since August 24, when he was charged with two earned runs on six hits against the Cubs. In that appearance, he walked four and struck out three. Ross finished the month with a 1.05 ERA and a 3.49 FIP in five starts. In general, he has a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings as a starter, as opposed to an 11.17 ERA in 19.1 innings out of the bullpen.

Tuesday, September 3: Jacob deGrom vs. Max Scherzer, 7:05 p.m. on SNY

deGrom (2019): 169.0 IP, 214 K, 39 BB, 17 HR, 2.66 ERA, 2.77 FIP, 1.02 WHIP

deGrom was great for six innings on Thursday night, but things quickly unraveled in a disastrous seventh inning. He was not helped out by his defense as a couple of singles got through that could have been played for outs, but he then served up a three-run home run to Victor Caratini that took all the wind out of the Mets’ sails. It was the second homer Caratini hit in the game, which accounted for all four runs deGrom allowed. It was the first time since June 18 that deGrom served up two home runs in the same start. He didn’t issue a walk and he struck out seven as he saw his ERA tick upward to 2.66. This will be the third time that deGrom and Scherzer have faced off in 2019, with the Mets emerging victorious the first two times.

Scherzer (2019): 142.2 IP, 200 K, 27 BB, 12 HR, 2.46 ERA, 2.22 FIP, 1.02 WHIP

Despite battling some nagging injuries and missing some time at various points this year, Scherzer hasn’t missed a step and still figures to factor in the Cy Young discussion at year’s end, alongside deGrom, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Mike Soroka, and Clayton Kershaw. He leads qualified National League starters in FIP and ERA+ and reached 200 strikeouts for the eighth consecutive season. In his second start since returning from the IL, Scherzer went 4.1 innings against the Orioles and was charged with two earned runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and one walk on 89 pitches. He has handled the Mets very well this year, going 13.2 innings and allowing two earned runs while striking out 21 in two starts.

Wednesday, September 4: Zack Wheeler vs. Anibal Sanchez, 1:05 p.m. on Youtube

Wheeler (2019): 161.1 IP, 160 K, 45 BB, 20 HR, 4.41 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 1.30 WHIP

Wheeler was superb after a string of subpar outings. The right-hander held the Phillies to one run and went toe-to-toe with Nola. He walked three and only struck out four, but he was able to escape some dicey situations to limit the damage long enough for the offense to take over against Philadelphia’s bullpen. After tossing 15 shutout innings to begin August and stumbling in the three starts that followed, this outing put him back on the right path as he enters what could be his final month in a Mets uniform. He finished August with a 3.41 ERA and a 3.92 FIP in 37 innings.

Sanchez (2019): 135.0 IP, 116 K, 52 BB, 16 HR, 3.80 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 1.32 WHIP

In his last outing against the Marlins on Friday night, Sanchez threw five innings and held Miami to two earned runs on three hits. He accumulated six strikeouts while issuing four walks in a game that Washington would end up winning late. Prior to that, Sanchez gave the Nationals his best start of 2019, pitching 8.1 innings of one-hit ball while allowing two runs (one earned) with six strikeouts and two walks.

Prediction: The Mets drop two of three to finish the road trip.

Poll

How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Nationals?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    With their three big starters going, the Mets sweep the Nationals!
    (9 votes)
  • 29%
    New York take two of three to end their road trip on a high note.
    (11 votes)
  • 18%
    The Mets take a step back by dropping two of three.
    (7 votes)
  • 21%
    The Mets suffer another demoralizing sweep at the hands of a playoff-bound team.
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    Pizza!
    (2 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now