There are games on the schedule that become more significant based on the standings. This weekend’s games are being hyped as the most important series of the year for the Mets. For the Nationals, they just need to keep winning series, and all signs point to that the Nats will play another series without Max Scherzer who remains on the 10-day IL. He would be eligible to be activated if he was able to pitch. Fortunately, manager Dave Martinez has the other three pitchers in his “Big Four” lined up to pitch in this series. He has penciled in Stephen Strasburg vs. Marcus Stroman for tonight, Patrick Corbin vs. Noah Syndergaard on Saturday, and the Nationals used the open date on the calendar on Thursday to reseed the rotation to pitch Anibal Sanchez vs. Jacob deGrom in the finale on Sunday. It was Sanchez who out-pitched the Cy Young frontrunner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, of the Dodgers two weeks ago, and Martinez will ask Sanchez to do it again.
For Strasburg, he has had two poor starts this year, and both were against the Diamondbacks. Last time, he bounced back after his first start against the D-backs and beat the Atlanta Braves. The Nationals need Strasburg to do the same tonight against another NL East rival. Strasburg believes he knows what went wrong in his last start.
“Well, actually I do know what they’re seeing, so it’s a positive,” Strasburg said after his previous start. “You always try and look at the positives and ways to improve, and I think I’ve figured that one out. … Again, it’s my job to mix up pitches, execute pitches. … I do know I have to go out there and be better next time. The little things sometimes can become big things if you don’t manage them well.”
With Strasburg looking to redeem himself, the Mets have their new acquisition Marcus Stroman on the mound, and he is coming off of a rough start in which he was pulled at 4 1/3 innings and 3 earned runs. The Nats who have hit Stroman well are Asdrubal Cabrera (.600), Kurt Suzuki (.375), and Gerardo Parra (.333) are in small sample sizes. Would you want Asrubal who is 3-5 against him or stick with Dozier’s superior defense and hope he is swinging the bat better? The batters who have not hit Stroman well are Brian Dozier (.231), Adam Eaton 1-7 (.143), and Yan Gomes 0-8 (.000).
We will see how Davey Martinez pencils up this lineup with so many Nats players who have never seen Stroman before. They are expecting a packed house in CitiField tonight with the feel of a playoff game. The good news for the Nats is that they have a 2 ½ game lead in the Wild Card chase with four dozen games to go in the regular season. The Nationals look like a much different team in terms of the roster that faced the Mets the last time with the league worst bullpen. It is now the Mets who lead the Majors in a stat you do not want to lead: Blown Saves. The Mets have 22 blown saves, and a bullpen OPS of .809 which is also the worst in the NL in a tie with the Phillies.
Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets
Stadium: CitiField, Queens, New York
1st Pitch: 7:10 pm EDT
TV: MASN, SNY, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)
Line-up subject to change (without notice):