Citi Field will host a heated NL East battle tomorrow as the division leading Washington Nationals (23-15) travel to Queens to face the New York Mets (21-16). Both teams haven’t been at their best lately as both have lost six of their last ten. The Mets could not pick up crucial ground for their home stand as the Colorado Rockies swept them in the last series. For the Nationals, they were also swept in their series with the Chicago Cubs at the beginning of the month, and since then, have barely held on to the division lead. Both teams aim for the seat on the throne to kick off the week.
7:10 PM Tuesday: Noah Syndergaard (3-2, 2.53 ERA) v Max Scherzer (4-2, 4.15 ERA)
Syndergaard stole the show in his last start against the Los Angeles Dodgers where he not only went eight strong but launched two home runs to secure his victory. This outstanding performance came after two straight losses for the flamethrower. He will need more of the same magic against a tough Nationals lineup.
Scherzer also sent the baseball world in a craze in his last start where he struck out 20 batters in a complete game masterpiece. This performance now puts him at 66 strikeouts on the year which is good for third in the NL behind Jose Fernandez and Clayton Kershaw. The Mets will need to be cautious at the plate against the righty.
Pitching Edge: It’s tough to say who will top their last performance, but the home crowd anticipating this series, the first game edge will go to Thor.
7:10 PM Wednesday: TBD v Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.93 ERA)
The Mets are still awaiting word on whether or not Steven Matz can start Wednesday. He was scratched last time around due to left elbow soreness. As of now, Harvey is pushed back to Thursday leaving possibly Bartolo Colon or Logan Verrett to take the hill Wednesday.
Either way, they will have to face Gonzalez who is always a threat for the Nats. Though he is only 2-1 on the year, the crafty left hander has a sub-2 ERA in 42 innings. He has not been getting the run support he had hoped for, but with his arsenal, he only needs a couple to do some damage.
Pithcing Edge: Give Gio the edge here with questions looming around who the Mets will throw at the Nats Wednesday.
7:10 Thursday: Matt Harvey (3-5, 4.93 ERA) v Stephen Strasburg (6-0, 2.95 ERA)
The Colorado Rockies struck Harvey for 11 hits in his last start resulting in five earned runs and an exit from the Dark Knight in the sixth. His main problem has been getting passed the opposing hitters the second and third times through the lineup, and it showed again here. All of the Rockies runs came in the fourth, fifth and sixth when Harvey was rolling through the first three innings.
What doesn’t help Harvey’s cause is the fact that Strasburg, the Nationals ace, will be hurling Thursday night. The Nationals recently signed the 27-year-old to a lengthy seven-year, $175 million contract which he has certainly earned this season. He rewarded his ballclub with a win in his last start beating the Miami Marlins after six innings striking out seven and allowing three earned. Strasburg has finished at least six full innings in every start this year and it doesn’t seem that will change anytime soon.
Pitching Edge: Strasburg gets the edge as he continues to show dominance on the bump.
More About This Series
The big story for this series is not only the division race, but more importantly to Mets fan, the return of Daniel Murphy to Citi Field. This will be the team’s first meeting since the Nationals signed the Mets postseason hero, and what a signing it turned out to be so far this year. Murphy is hitting an unbelievable league-leading .400 with 23 RBIs and 20 extra base hits. Fans may be changing their minds about Murphy now after he plundered in the World Series, but he will sure be hearing the boos when he steps up to the plate in his old stomping grounds.