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Washington Nationals Series #1 Preview: Mets Opposition Research

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You may know the Nationals, but how well do you know the teams that they crush into the dust on their way to October? 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.

The second coming of Matt Harvey is nigh.  This dream must be crushed early and without remorse.
The second coming of Matt Harvey is nigh. This dream must be crushed early and without remorse.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Beating the New York Mets will be the first baby step on the way to a 162 win season.  This three game series will be a good test of whether these mortals that populate the rest of the division are even going to put up a fight in 2015.  All three games will be played at the heavenly Nationals Park.

Monday, 4:05 pm - Max Scherzer vs Bartolo Colon
Over their respective careers, each has won about 46% of games started.  Colon is ahead by 113 wins right now.  Can Scherzer find a way to close the gap?

Wednesday 7:05 pm - Jordan Zimmermann vs Jacob deGrom
Jacob deGrom was the Mets' best pitcher last year, just as Zimm was the Nats' best pitcher.  Their ERA/FIP/xFIP lines were eerily similar last year.  Come find out who is the best of the best!

Thursday 1:05 pm - Stephen Strasburg vs Matt Harvey
The Mets trot out their Strasburg copy-cat to face Strasburg.  Young phenom Harvey is just coming back from Tommy John surgery and he has been on fire this spring.  This will be a hot ticket.  Elbow surgeons win regardless of the outcome.

Interesting fact: The first eight games played by the Nationals this year will feature six different start times.   Lucky for you, you can follow Patrick on Twitter so he can keep track of it all for you.

The Mets Lineup

Daniel Murphy's reliable bat and glove are a last minute addition to the lineup as of this weekend (he's returning from a hamstring injury).  The actual batting order has yet to be announced, so here is one possibility:

CF - Juan Lagares
+ speed
++ glove
average bat
Gold Glove winner Lagares managed to put up a .321 OBP in 2014, which was enough to win him leadoff duties for now.  He has had a strong spring.

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LF - Curtis Granderson
+ power (lefty)
-- defense
Granderson still hit 20 home runs last year, but his defense went south again and he was one of the least valuable Mets despite playing more games than anyone else.  Strong spring.
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3B - David Wright
+ bat
solid glove

Wright is looking to bounce back from a pedestrian 2014, which was his worst season in -- ever.  That said, his bat was still league average last year, so still a threat.

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1B - Lucas Duda
++ bat/power (lefty)
-- glove
Duda hits for power, not average.  He hit 30 HRs last year.  Think Adam LaRoche, minus the glove.  His weakness is left-handed pitching.
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RF - Michael Cuddyer
+? bat
- glove
Cuddyer's bat is still dangerous even at age 36. Lady Luck seems to love this guy, but Father Time is on his way. Also, he's not playing at Coors Field anymore.
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2B - Daniel Murphy
+ bat
+ glove

Mets fans are ecstatic that Murphy is starting instead of Ruben Tejada.  He has been a solid and reliable every year for years on both offense and defense, but only had 17 AB this spring.
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C - Travis d'Arnaud
average bat
+ power
d'Arnaud turned things around at the plate during the second half last year but has been ice cold this spring.  Backing him up is the light hitting Anthony Recker (who strikes out a lot).
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SS - Wilmer Flores
+ glove
- bat

Flores is young and enthusiastic.  He does not walk but does not strike out a lot either.  His .286 OBP last year is great news. He's the Mets' version of Danny Espinosa.

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The Mets Bullpen

The Mets are starting the season with eight men in the bullpen.  There are some strong bullpen pieces returning for the Mets in righties like Jeurys Familia, closer Jenrry Mejia, Buddy Carlyle and Carlos Torres.  Another solid righty, Vic Black, will be missed (disabled list).  Rookie Rafael Montero, a starter who was beat out for the 5th spot in the rotation by Dillon Gee, will join them after putting up stellar numbers in spring training.

The two lefties in the bullpen are fresh via trades, Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres (formerly of the Rays and Padres).  Blevins knows the Nationals, but is coming off of a frustrating spring.  The other lefty, Alex Torres, has reverse splits, which means he is actually more effective against righties than lefties.   The eighth member of the bullpen is their Rule 5 draft pick, Sean Gilmartin.  Gilmartin is likely to be used as a LOOGY as he has stunk vs righties all spring.

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.  Uh-oh.

Can They Be Swept?

Yes, if things go according to plan.  Scherzer vs Colon should be a cakewalk.

The other two games are matchups where the Mets pitchers are legitimately great and also have put up much better spring training numbers.  This is not a series that the Nats can take for granted after three top hitters to injuries, especially given the struggles of the rest of the Nats lineup for most of the spring.

Taking all that into consideration, it would still be a shame if the Nats don't  win every game.  One does not win 162 games by losing games.  Teddy does not believe in losing games, and neither should you.