In the midst of the Matt Harvey news, the New York Mets find themselves heading into the most important series of their season. The Mets will visit the nation’s capital on Monday to square off against the Washington Nationals, who are fresh off of a four game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. The Mets have entered a cold stretch, losing two games this past weekend to the Miami Marlins in walk-off fashion. Adversity has been a consistent visitor to the ballpark for the Mets throughout the season and September has not shown any signs of changing that occurring trend.
Monday: Jon Niese (8-10, 4.17 ERA) vs Max Scherzer (11-11, 2.89 ERA)
Niese looked like he would be a main stay in the Mets rotation for the postseason a month ago. Now with postseason unclear and the recent struggles with Niese, September will be a time for the left hander to reassure the organization that he can be clutch in significant situations. Niese had a 3.46 ERA on Aug. 15, but it has since sky rocketed to a 4.17 mark due to his recent struggle. His start on Monday was in question earlier in the week because of the importance of the upcoming series, but Terry Collins seems certain that Niese can duel with the
Scherzer is one of the top pitchers in the game when everything is clicking. His record does not tell the story for the Nationals’ ace. Scherzer has not received run support throughout the majority of the season. But, the large contract Scherzer signed during the offseason speaks volumes about what type of pitcher he is. It’s no secret that he is the ace of a staff loaded with All-Star level pitchers. Manager Matt Williams even shifted his rotation around in August in preparation for the Mets series. Williams made sure that he would send his most lethal weapon to the bump for game one of the series. After a four game sweep of the Braves, what better time for Scherzer to pitch against the team on the top of the division?
Tuesday: Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.60) vs Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.38 ERA
Tuesday would be the perfect time for Harvey to assert himself as the leader of his team’s young rotation. Not only are the Mets in the heart of a playoff push, but Harvey has seen some personal issues arise. This past weekend there was a debate over the innings limit for Harvey. Harvey and the organization came to a conclusion that he will not pitch four more times during the regular season, but if the Mets make the playoffs, he will be on the mound. This will be a chance to forget about the constant buzz about his recovery from Tommy John Surgery.
Zimmermann’s last start against the Mets didn’t go as planned. On Sunday Night Baseball in front of a packed Citi Field he surrendered three long balls, on his to allowing five earned runs. Zimmermann has changed his fortunes since that inadequate performance on Aug. 2, a game that allowed the Mets to move into first place, a position they have held since that date. In Zimmermann’s last three starts he is 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA.
Wednesday: Jacob deGrom (12-7, 2.40 ERA) vs Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.35 ERA)
With all of the Harvey news circulating New York, deGrom could be the most important pitcher down the stretch for the Mets. Like the other young pitchers, he won’t have an innings limit. After giving up seven runs in a total melt down in Philadelphia two weeks ago, deGrom has been able to bounce back and put together two solid starts against the Red Sox and Marlins.
Strasburg has been bothered by injuries during a majority of the season, but he has looked healthy ever since returning from the DL in August. Other than his last start against the Marlins, Strasburg has kept teams to two runs or less this past month. He has an opportunity to move the Nationals closer in the pennant race.
Lucas Duda will be back in the lineup on Monday after missing two weeks with a back injury.
Steven Matz showed that he is healthy on Sunday against the Marlins, which means Collins can make a transition back to the six man rotation.
The Nationals currently sit four games behind the Mets in the standings. They are on a five game winning streak entering Monday afternoon’s game.