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In a plot twist, Mets play a team other than Giants and Dodgers tonight

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That team is the Nationals, who the Mets swept at home earlier this month.

Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

For the first time since August 12, the Mets (61-66) will look at the opposing dugout and see a team other than the Dodgers and Giants staring them down. That team is the Nationals (54-72), the last club the Mets happened to face before their stretch from hell. In that series, the Mets swept Washington, and overall they have won six out of the 11 games they’ve played against the Nats.

The Mets were just swept by the NL-leading Giants at home as they fell further out of first place and saw their playoff hopes diminish. On Tuesday, the Mets were blown out 8-0 by San Francisco. Francisco Lindor returned to the lineup and joined his friend Javier Báez up the middle for the first time, but it did nothing to help the offense. Tylor Megill couldn’t escape the fourth and served up four home runs to the powerful Giants’ lineup. Meanwhile, the offense did next-to-nothing against the immortal Sammy Long, managing just five hits on the evening while the Giants put up 15 against their pitching.

Wednesday’s game was much closer, but in the end New York lost a frustrating game 3-2. Taijuan Walker was perfect through three before surrendering a Kris Bryant solo home run. The Mets tied it up with a run in the fifth, and then scored another in the sixth to go ahead for the first time in the series. Things remain tied until the seventh, when Walker allowed the first two batters to reach—on soft contact—and was pulled by Luis Rojas in favor of Aaron Loup. The move drew a strong negative reaction from the right-hander and the Flushing Faithful, and Loup immediately surrendered a two-run double to left-handed hitting Brandon Crawford. The Giants did their best to give the Mets a run in the ninth, but New York didn’t capitalize on their mistakes, and Pete Alonso popped up with the bases loaded to end the game.

The Mets dropped Thursday’s finale by the same score as they lost Wednesday’s contest, and it was an equally frustrating defeat. Carrasco gave up a two-run home run to Bryant in the first but then set down 20 of the next 21 batters he faced as he turned in his longest (and best) outing as a Met. New York tied it up on Alonso’s 29th homer of the year, a majestic two-run blast that sailed over the foul pole and hit the glass on the restaurant in left. Seth Lugo was called upon in the eighth and allowed the go-ahead run to score without retiring a batter, but Loup escaped the inning without any further damage. The Mets loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but Jeff McNeil grounded out to end the inning. In all, the Mets left ten on base in the defeat.

The Mets finished their two-week stretch with an embarrassing 2-11 record (something Steve Cohen reminded a fan of during last night’s game). Of those, seven losses were by one run, something Rojas pointed to as a positive from this past stretch. He even joined a long line of unsuccessful Mets managers who dropped a “We battled” with his squad floundering. But guess what? In the end, the team lost seven full games in the standings from the start of this stretch, and all but buried themselves in the National League East race.

From here, the Mets play 15 consecutive games against the Nationals and the Marlins. As a result of the team’s ineptitude, they would need to, at minimum, go something like 12-3 or 13-2 during this string of games to even think about a playoff berth. Even then, it would require a lot of help from the teams playing the Braves and the Phillies. The Mets have already gotten some assistance, as the Yankees swept Atlanta and the Rays swept Philadelphia, but the Mets have not been able to capitalize. The Mets enter play tonight 7.5 games back of the Braves in the NL East, and two back of the Phillies.

Speaking of the Nationals, they just dropped two out of three games to the aforementioned Marlins. Since selling off their roster at the trade deadline, Washington has posted a 6-17 record.

Juan Soto, unsurprisingly, has been the team’s best bat this month. He owns a team-high 171 wRC+ in August, slashing .298/.529/.509 with three home runs and 15 runs scored in 21 games. Yadiel Hernandez has also had a great month, hitting .329/.383/.575 with a team-leading five home runs and a 152 wRC+ in 22 August games. Carter Kieboom, meanwhile, is slashing .273/.374/.468 with four homers and a 126 wRC+ in 22 games this month. Josh Bell has struggled this month, hitting .230/.318/.419 with four homers and a 97 wRC+ in 21 games.

Friday, August 27: Paolo Espino vs. Rich Hill, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Espino (2021): 75.2 IP, 58 K, 15 BB, 14 HR, 4.28 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.20 WHIP, 0.3 bWAR

Espino is making the most of his opportunity with Washington after not throwing a pitch since the 2017 season. Since he last faced the Mets on August 10, the right-hander allowed five earned runs on eight hits over four innings against the Braves on August 15, and then allowed three earned runs on five hits to his former club, the Brewers. In that previous outing, he did match his season high of six strikeouts. He picked up his second career victory against the Mets on June 28, shutting New York out over five innings.

Hill (2021): 122.0 IP, 107 K, 43 BB, 19 HR, 4.13 ERA, 4.79 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR

Rich Hill gave another Rich Hill performance in his last start, going five innings and allowing three earned runs on six hits. He didn’t issue a walk and he struck out two. Those are about the exact numbers the club has come to expect from him every time out. All three of those runs came on solo homers, which broke a stretch of three straight starts for the left-hander without serving up a long ball. Hill made his third start for the Mets against Washington, allowing three earned runs on four hits over three innings. He also faced them as a member of the Rays earlier this year, when he allowed four earned runs on eight hits over six innings.

Saturday, August 28: Sean Nolin vs. Marcus Stroman, 7:10 p.m. on SNY

Nolin (2021): 7.0 IP, 7 K, 3 BB, 2 HR, 9.00 ERA, 6.17 FIP, 2.43 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR

Prior to pitching for the Nationals this year, Nolin had not thrown a pitch at the major league level since he was a member of the Athletics way back in 2015. The 32-year-old struggled to get back after getting designated for assignment by Oakland, as he was claimed and released by several clubs during that time. He spent some time with the Long Island Ducks and the Saitama Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball before finally getting a chance with Washington. In two starts for the Nationals—he made his debut against the Mets back on August 12—the left-hander has allowed seven earned runs on 14 hits in seven innings.

Stroman (2021): 145.1 IP, 129 K, 35 BB, 14 HR, 2.85 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 1.12 WHIP, 2.8 bWAR

Stroman’s terrific performance this year may very well be lost as just another footnote in a long and fruitless Mets season, but it shouldn’t be. With Jacob deGrom injured, the right-hander has been everything the club has needed him to be, taking the ball every fifth day and performing well almost every time out. He picked up a win in his last outing against the powerful Dodgers’ lineup, going six innings and giving up two earned runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. It was his second straight quality start, and his tenth straight start of five innings or more. With his impending free agency, the Mets will have to seriously consider paying the price to keep him in New York, given the uncertainty of their rotation going forward.

Sunday, August 29: Erick Fedde vs. Tylor Megill, 1:10 p.m. on WPIX

Fedde (2021): 102.2 IP, 97 K, 42 BB, 14 HR, 4.91 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 1.41 WHIP, -0.3 bWAR

Fedde is coming off one of his best start of the 2021 season. In his most recent outing against the Marlins, he struck out a season-high ten while limiting Miami to one earned run on six hits with one walk as he earned his second consecutive win. Fedde’s best start of the year came against the Mets back on June 18, when he shut them out over seven two-hit innings. In total, he has faced New York three times this year and has allowed five earned runs over 16.0 innings.

Megill (2021): 59.2 IP, 65 K, 15 BB, 11 HR, 4.07 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 1.27 WHIP, 0.8 bWAR

Megill simply did not have it in his last start and put together, by far, his worst outing at the big league level. The right-hander lasted only 3.2 innings and allowed a career-high seven earned runs, four home runs, and 11 hits to the potent San Francisco lineup. Even the outs he surrendered were loud and went far, and you could see that he was not long for that game. Megill has now thrown an even 100 innings this year, between the minors and majors, after not throwing a single pitch in 2020 and throwing a combined 99.2 innings in 2018 and 2019. Fatigue is certainly a factor, and you have to imagine the club is considering shutting him down at some point before season’s end.

Prediction: The Mets drop two of three to the Nationals.

Poll

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

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    The Mets repeat their feat from earlier in August and sweep the Nats!
    (15 votes)
  • 41%
    The Mets pick up a much-needed series win by taking two of three.
    (31 votes)
  • 18%
    The Mets win one but drop yet another series.
    (14 votes)
  • 6%
    The Nationals return the favor by sweeping the Mets at Citi Field.
    (5 votes)
  • 12%
    Pizza!
    (9 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now