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Washington Nationals Series #8 Preview: Mets Opposition Research

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You may know the Nationals, but how well do you know the teams that they need to crush into the dust to prove that they are as good as they are? To prepare you for this series, here is a primer on the New York Mets. Learn their strengths and weaknesses and take your job as armchair manager to new heights.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Four games against against the New York Mets is something called "opportunity".  Sure, the Nats are six games behind at the moment, but if all goes well they will be much closer after this weekend and one step closer to a 149 win season.  The Nats have some fire in their belly and if half of that comes out every game here then a .500 record will be within their grasp.  All three games will be played at Citi Field.

Thursday, 7:10 pm - Stephen Strasburg vs Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom's fourth start was a rough outing where he allowed 8 hits including 3 HR in 5 IP.  Unfortunately, Strasburg has been even worse so far at keeping runners off the bases and also allowed 8 hits last time out.  Overall, the edge still belongs to deGrom.

Friday,  7:10 pm - Max Scherzer vs Matt Harvey
Matt Harvey has been great through four starts.  He nearly threw a complete game against the Yankees last time out.  Luckily for the Nats, Scherzer has been even better and holds the edge in this and pretty much any matchup.

Saturday, 7:10 pm - Gio Gonzalez vs Jon Niese
Niese has a nice 2.74 ERA, but that number can't hide his struggle with keeping runners off the bases.  His 1.61 WHIP is nearly as high as Gio's 1.71 WHIP.  For reference, Scherzer + Harvey = 1.78 WHIP put together.  This battle of lefties may get messy.

Sunday, 1:10 pm - Doug Fister vs Dillon Gee
Gee is the weak spot in the Mets rotation, but his dominant performance against the Marlins means his job is safe for the moment.  The Nats will want to jump on him hard, especially if Fister continues to put up lackluster numbers.

The Mets Lineup

The Mets bats have been nearly league average so far this year (a bit better than the Nats on average), but their defense has really sparkled.  David Wright has been on the DL since April 15 (hamstring), but his replacement has performed quite admirably.  The loss of Travis d'Arnaud (broken hand) is hurting them much more.

LF - Curtis Granderson
+ OBP (lefty)
- defense

Granderson's .372 OBP has him owning the leadoff spot now.  His patience at the plate help him set the table for the Mets, and his defense has not been a liability so far.

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CF - Juan Lagares
+ speed
+ glove
average bat
Lagares only has one stolen base so far, his defense is not as good as in past years, and his bat is still quite average.  Don't count him out, but he's not the biggest threat in this lineup right now.
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1B - Lucas Duda
++ bat/power (lefty)
-- glove

Duda is crushing everything everything these days, especially lefties.  That's right, he's batting .421 vs lefties this year.  Have fun with that, MW.  Still a defensive hole.

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RF - Michael Cuddyer
+ bat
- glove
Cuddyer's bat has cooled to league average levels and he has not displayed the defensive prowess needed to make up for that.  Still dangerous at the plate.
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2B - Daniel Murphy
+ bat
+ glove
Murphy's bat is one of the weakest in this lineup, with an OBP at .271 to date.  Has 7 hits in the past four games, so his bat is far from ice cold.
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3B - Eric Campbell
+ bat
+ glove

Campbell was called up to fill in for Wright, and this 28 year old prospect has delivered.  His .340 OBP and great defense have minimized the impact of Wright's injury.
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SS - Wilmer Flores
+ glove
- bat
Flores has been a nice surprise at the plate, with 3 HR and a .313 OBP despite only drawing 2 BB.  It's too early to say if his newfound offensive prowess will stick around, but he has become a threat for now.
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C - Kevin Plawecki
- bat
+ glove

Called up to fill in for the injured d'Arnaud, the rookie Plawecki has struggled against major league pitching but is still getting the bulk of playing time over Anthony Recker.

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The Mets Bullpen

The Mets bullpen has been excellent to date.  They are still running an eight man bullpen.  There are some strong bullpen pieces returning for the Mets in righties like Jeurys Familia, Buddy Carlyle, and Erik GoeddelCarlos Torres has struggled so far.   Rookie Rafael Montero has struggled a bit too and has already made a spot start but is still stuck in the pen for now.  Closer Jenrry Mejia is still on the DL.

The lefties in the bullpen have been strange.  Jerry Blevins injured his forearm and is on the DL.  Alex Torres has been shutting down opponents effectively as well (though his reverse splits are still a thing).  Rule 5 draft pick Sean Gilmartin has not been used in a week but has been solid so far, except against lefties.  Jack Leathersich pitched his first-out-worth of major league baseball on Wednesday.

If the Nats can stack their lineup with left-handed bats (Span, Harper, Cabrera, Espinosa, Lobaton) then the Mets will be forced to choose carefully whom to deploy their lefty specialists against.  Yay!

Can They Be Swept?

Yes.  How can you doubt the Nats offense after these past two games?  Oh?  Well, you do make a good point, but if you keep thinking like that you'll start giving up or surrendering mid game, and since when do we do that?  In terms of pitching these teams are almost evenly matched, and the Mets lineup, depleted by injuries may not be better than a hot Nats lineup with with only two injury depletions.  I mean, two starters on the DL is nothing these days, not for the Nats.

Taking all that into consideration, it would be a shame if the Nats don't jump on this chance to close the gap between them and the Mets.  One does not win 149 games by losing games.  If any of you out there still believe in losing games, I may have to introduce you to Wiley E. Coyote, who is a living testimony to the fact that past losses are no excuse for losing faith in future wins.  Winning is awesome, and the Nats plan on winning.