Fresh off a ten-game California road trip that saw them go 7-3 (3-0 vs. the Athletics, 2-1 vs. the Dodgers, and 2-2 against the Giants), the Mets (14-9) are back at Citi Field to take on the Nationals (7-14). The Mets won four of their six games on their only home stand of 2023 so far, and look to capitalize on their solid play at home over the past year-plus. The Mets dominated Washington last year, taking 14 of their 19 games against their division rivals, including seven of nine at Citi Field.
As previously mentioned, the Mets split their four-game set with the Giants over the weekend to cap off their West Coast swing. Things kicked off with a 9-4 victory for New York on Thursday night, as the offense picked up a shaky Kodai Senga. The team’s hurler allowed four earned runs and walked four over five, but he was still able to pick up his third victory as the offense pounded out 13 hits and drove in nine runs. Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil collected three hits apiece, while Pete Alonso and Eduardo Escobar each contributed home runs.
The Mets followed that victory up with a decisive 7-0 win on Friday night. Joey Lucchesi, making his first start since 2021 after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, turned in arguably the best outing of his major league career. He hurled seven shutout innings, scattering four hits while striking out nine, including punching out the side in his last inning of work. The Mets had multi-hit performances from Nimmo, McNeil, Alonso, Daniel Vogelbach, and Luis Guillorme. Alonso hit a homer and drove in four runs for the second straight games, and reached 10 home runs in just the 21st game of the season. That was more than enough offense to back up the churve, which made its triumphant return.
The Mets fell on Saturday by a 7-4 score, ending their three-game winning streak in the process. David Peterson, who had allowed six earned runs in six innings in his previous outing, was tagged for seven earned runs over five, including four in the first inning. Despite striking out eight, it was another subpar outing for the young left-hander, and the Mets were forced to play catch-up the entire game. A Nimmo homer got the Mets to within two runs at 4-2, but San Francisco pulled away as the game went on. The Mets scored runs in the eighth and ninth, but it was too little, too late.
The road trip ended on a down note with a 5-4 loss on Sunday Night Baseball to conclude what was, otherwise, a very successful trip. The Mets were playing from behind pretty much from the jump, as San Francisco jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and extended it to 2-0 in the second. The Mets cut the lead in half in the third thanks to a Francisco Lindor run-scoring double, and a pair of sacrifice flies from Mark Canha and from Nimmo in the fourth put the Mets in front. The Giants snatched the lead back with two runs in the bottom half of the fourth, but Francisco Álvarez’s first homer of the year tied things up again. It remained that way until the eighth, when the Giants went ahead for good thanks to a Mike Yastrzemski run-scoring double against Drew Smith.
A 7-3 road trip is pretty good for a team facing the pitching shortages they’re currently experiencing, especially since West Coast trips have often been a huge test for the team (and one they have, more often than not, failed). Nimmo dominated out west, slashing .442/.479/.674 with two homers, a team-high eight runs, eight runs batted in, and a team-best 216 wRC+ and 1.0 fWAR. McNeil was second in both wRC+ (170) and fWAR (0.5) while hitting .351/.455/.486 with one home run and seven runs scored. Alonso mashed four homers on the trip while leading the club with a .286 ISO and contributing a 152 wRC+, good for a 0.4 fWAR.
The Nationals are coming off a series win against the Twins in Minnesota over the weekend. They took the first two games 3-2 and 10-4 before falling 3-1 on Sunday. Prior to that, they were swept by the Orioles, getting shut out 1-0 in 4-0 in the two-game set.
Unsurprisingly, the Nationals come into this series in last place, which is where they were pretty much universally picked to finish this year, especially after last year’s trade of Juan Soto. Offensively, they rank last in the NL in OPS (.653), second-to-last in runs (76) and third from the bottom in wRC+ (80). Their pitching has performed slightly more admirably, as their starters have posted a 4.74 ERA (good for 10th in the NL, ahead of the 12th place Mets at 4.94). Their bullpen has been their strongest asset so far, with a 3.57 ERA, which ranks fifth in the NL.
Tuesday, April 25: Josiah Gray vs. TBD, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Gray (2023): 21.2 IP, 16 K 9 BB, 4 HR, 3.74 ERA, 5.81 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Despite taking four losses in his four starts this season, Gray has had a strong start to his third year in the major leagues. The 25-year-old has especially been good in his last three outings, allowing four earned runs on 16 hits over 16 2⁄3 innings. However, his team has scored exactly zero runs for him in those three starts, losing by scores of 1-0, 2-0, and 1-0 in those three games. Overall, his team has pushed one run across over his four starts this year. The Mets have hit Gray pretty hard, scoring 16 runs in 12 innings over three starts against the Washington right-hander.
The Mets have not named a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game. It’ll likely be José Butto, provided they put someone on the IL.
Wednesday, April 26: MacKenzie Gore vs. Kodai Senga, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Gore (2023): 21.0 IP, 25 K 14 BB, 2 HR, 3.43 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 1.38 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
Gore came over to Washington as part of the Soto trade last year after posting a 4.50 ERA across 70 innings with the Padres. He won a job in the team’s starting rotation and, so far, he has impressed his new squad. In four starts, he has given up eight earned runs on 15 hits across 21 innings. His last time out, he recorded a quality start but suffered his first loss of 2023 after two wins and a no decision, allowing three earned runs on three hits, with a season-high seven strikeouts and four walks over six innings. This will be his first time facing the Mets.
Senga (2023): 21.0 IP, 25 K, 14 BB, 5 HR, 4.29 ERA, 6.07 FIP, 1.52 WHIP, 0.0 bWAR
Despite a perfect 3-0 record, Senga has been shaky in four major league starts so far. He earned a win against the Giants his last time out, but surrendered four earned runs for the second straight outing. He also walked four (while also striking out four) and serving up two homers, making it five over his last three starts. He has walked at least three batters in each of his four starts, but it’s understandable that he would have a learning curve as he adapts to a new league. He has shown plenty of potential over his early career, and once he settles in, he could become a big weapon for New York.
Thursday, April 27: Trevor Williams vs. Joey Lucchesi, 7:10 p.m. on SNY
Williams (2023): 21.1 IP, 13 K 4 BB, 3 HR, 3.38 ERA, 4.67 FIP, 1.08 WHIP, 0.4 bWAR
Following a strong season as a spot starter and long reliever for New York, Williams found a spot in the Nationals’ starting rotation, and he’s made the most of it so far. In four outings for Washington so far, he’s picked up a win and a loss while posting a 3.38 ERA and a 4.67 FIP in 21 1⁄3 innings. His last start was arguably his best, as he allowed two earned runs on four hits while striking out four in six frames. This will be his first time facing his old club since departing over the offseason.
Lucchesi (2023): 7.0 IP, 9 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 0.00 ERA, 1.65 FIP, 0.86 WHIP, 0.5 bWAR
All Lucchesi did in his first start in two years following Tommy John Surgery was turn in the best start of his major league career—that’s not just an opinion, his 80 game score was his finest to date. He hurled seven shutout frames, scattering four hits while striking out nine. He was extremely sharp and precise, tossing 67% of his pitches for strikes in the victory. With Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer returning soon, and with Peterson not exactly lighting the world on fire, the left-hander has the opportunity to cement his spot in the rotation as the team’s for the foreseeable future while the team waits for both Carlos Carrasco and, more distantly, José Quintana to return.
Prediction: The Mets take two out of three against the Nationals.
How will the Mets fare in their three game series against the Nationals?
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The Mets will sweep away last-place Washington!
The Mets take two of three in their first series back home.
The Mets steal a game, but they drop two to the pesky Nats.
The Mets suffer an embarrassing sweep to extend their losing streak to five.